WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A sexual predator in the Auckland athletics community was allowed to go virtually unchallenged during the 1980s, as multiple opportunities to stop him were missed.
Last month it was revealed that a woman had received an extraordinary apology from Athletics New Zealand and Athletics Auckland after she revealed she had been abused by a team official during a Trans Tasman Challenge athletics trip in 1987.
She was 11.
The Weekend Herald can now reveal that others have come forward with serious allegations of abuse involving Donald Parker, a St John volunteer who was known by kids as Dr Don - although he was not a medical doctor.
The most tragic concerns Dianne Patterson, who claims she was abused by Parker from the age of 6 or 7 until about 1988 or 1989, when she was in her teens.
Patterson* said the abuse started with Parker fondling her in the dispatch area of his workplace. Patterson's mother also worked there and she would go there every day after school.
"He was like a grandfather figure to me because I didn't have my grandparents in Auckland. At first it started with fondling and him making me touch him. It went to the next level when he babysat me at his house."
Patterson said she initially did not tell her mother because "Don told me nobody would believe me and if they did we would all get in big trouble, most of all my parents".
Patterson's parents would often go out on a Friday night and Parker would take her home with him, which is when the abuse escalated.
"He would park the car on the side of the road and make me lick his penis… because that's what good girls did," Patterson said.
Parker's abuse only stopped after they attended an athletics meeting at Avondale racecourse. Also with them was Patterson's cousin, whose father had just died.
Parker asked the cousin to come back to her car with him and told Patterson to stay where she was.
She assumed Parker had also abused her cousin and that night asked her mother "what rape was".
That set off an awkward chain of events. Patterson felt her story was not believed. She went into a spiral and her teenage years were marked by alcohol abuse and suicide attempts.
"I went from an A+ student to dropping out of school," she said. "I had a child very young."
She has got her life back on track, away from Auckland, but still feels bitterness and anger not just towards Parker, who died in 2007, but also at the frequent missteps of authorities that enabled him to continue abusing young girls.
"I named him to a rape crisis counsellor," she said. "They obviously didn't do anything."
Patterson was encouraged to speak out by a detective where she lives. He said that he "believed her story 100 per cent".
Patterson said she had gone through years of counselling. After being estranged from her family she now talks to them and knows they believe her.
"I want [name withheld] to know she's not alone. When I read about her story in the paper I felt guilty because when I stopped seeing [Parker], that's when the abuse happened to her."
The Weekend Herald received details about more alleged abuse from Parker, though we have not been able to speak to the victims on the record.
One email began: "I knew before I even read his name in your article exactly who it was going to be". The writer said they had witnessed Parker "grooming" two girls in Sydney during a Trans Tasman Challenge and said his "predilection" for young girls was openly discussed among the athletes.
Another parent wrote to say their daughter was a junior member of an athletics club and was abused by Parker in 1989. The parent asked that no details be publicised to protect their "troubled" daughter's identity.
The girl was interviewed by specialist police staff, which the parent claims was traumatic enough for two other girls who claimed they were abused by Parker to decline a similar interview.
"The police made the decision not to proceed, and I understand did not even approach [Parker] or warn him."
The Weekend Herald is aware of the family names of the other two alleged victims, but has not been able to corroborate the information.
The original victim to come forward, who we agreed not to name, said it was in a strange way comforting to know she was not alone.
"But I feel quite sickened to realise he did all this stuff. It feels like he was pushing to see what he could get away with."
The detective who had counselled Patterson contacted her, she said, to let her know there were other victims.
"I was shaking and sweating at the end of that phone call."
She also said she was grateful to Athletics Auckland and in particular chairman David Sim, who had taken her claims seriously from the start, who had sincerely apologised and had furnished her with a confidential report that concluded that "Parker was known by at least some people in athletics to be what could be described as sleazy, overly familiar with young women, and touchy".
The report outlined witnessed and reported incidents, including Parker entering a room in the middle of the night during the 1985 tour to Australia (there happened to be an adult in the room who woke as he opened the door), and being asked not to attend further events at Mt Smart Stadium because of his behavior with young girls.
"What is clear," the report said, "is that no one took the matter any further, including the police."
Sim told the Weekend Herald he was not surprised that more victims had come forward, but said nobody had come to his organisation specifically.
He noted the one positive to have come from the mess was that new community volunteer rules that had been proposed had been rapidly rolled out throughout the country.
The rules, including police vetting for volunteers, are designed to ensure young athletes are protected from the sort of trauma Parker's victims were subjected to.
St John said they have no record of any complaints about Parker, and after a subsequent inquiry said they hoped the story was based on facts, not hearsay.
* Patterson is her maiden name. We have agreed not to use her married name or her current place of residence.
Sexual harm - Do you need help?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact Safe to Talk confidentially:
• Call 0800 044 334 or text 4334.
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information or to web chat, visit safetotalk.nz
• Alternatively contact Help at helpauckland.org.nz or call their helpline on 0800 623 1700.
Or contact your local police station - click here for a list.