They always have an excuse these snake bellies…12 friggin months for OVER a decade of abusing vulnerable people in his professional care as a Department of Human Services disability support worker.Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.
A former Department of Human Services disability support worker who sexually abused a number of disabled male clients has been jailed for 12 months.
Craig Handasyde, from Croydon, abused his victims in a number of residential facilities between 1997 and 2011.
Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.
Handasyde abused his victims at the residential units, at swimming pools, in showers and in one case at a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.
In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless. On other occasions he masturbated clients, and induced them to masturbate him.
On at least one occasion he ignored attempts by one victim to push him away.
He handed himself into police last year after confessing the abuse to his wife and a pastor at his church.
Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of committing indecent acts against a person with a cognitive impairment.
In sentencing Handasyde, Judge Gavan Meredith said the families of his victims felt a “sense of loss and betrayal” at the “gross and egregious breach of the trust that was placed in [him]”.
Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation, you were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.
However, the judge said the offending was not likely to have ever come to light if Handasyde had not confessed.
He also said Handasyde was genuinely remorseful, had pleaded guilty early and was at low risk of re-offending.
The court heard Handasyde, 48, was also responding well to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which stemmed from physical abuse by his father as a child, and from witnessing the physical and sexual abuse of his mother by his father.
Family members of a number of Handasyde’s victims were in court to hear the verdict, as was Handasyde’s wife.
Perpetrator’s sexuality was ‘repressed’ by religious upbringing
Judge Meredith said Handasyde’s mother confided in him during his early adolescence that his father was sexually and physically abusing her, which left him feeling helpless.
Handasyde realised he was gay when he was young, but felt unable to express this due to his religious upbringing, and was bullied at school.
“Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation,” Judge Meredith said.
“You were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.”
Handasyde trained as an orchardist, but eventually gained qualifications to work in the disability sector.
He confided in his wife before their marriage that he was sexually attracted to other men, but promised not to act on his feelings.
The couple had eight children, but an earlier hearing was told Handasyde’s wife believed sex should only be for procreation.
Handasyde began watching gay pornography while working in the residential units, and the offending often took place after this.
He confessed to his wife in 2013 that he was watching gay pornography, and later confessed to abusing the men.
He then resigned from the DHS.
Long history of mental health issues, now being addressed
Judge Meredith said Handasyde was suffering from “chronic” post-traumatic stress disorder, which had only come to light since his offending was revealed, but that expert evidence suggested he had “significantly improved” with treatment.
The judge said Handasyde has also been assessed by experts as being at low risk of offending, and that “a constant theme was [his] sincere remorse and desire to make amends for [his] offending”.
Handasyde’s prospects of rehabilitation are good, the judge said, but it was necessary that he serve a term of imprisonment, despite the defence arguing that a community corrections order was appropriate.
Handasyde will be subject to an order for two years after his release.
Judge Meredith said that if Handasyde had not confessed and pleaded guilty, he would have imposed a sentence of two-and-a-half years.
Victim’s family trusted Handasyde, feel let down by department
Outside court after the hearing, the mother of one of Handasyde’s victims said her son had been scarred by the abuse, and was now on medication to deal with the trauma.
“Because he was there such a long time, you think you can trust them,” she said.
“[My son] went to Melbourne when he was three years old, they told me it was the right thing to do because there was no education for him in Geelong.
“So that’s what happened and I trusted the people, I trusted the department and obviously that’s not happened. They haven’t looked after him.”
From other news sites:
- The Age: Ex-DHS carer Craig Handasyde jailed for one year for abusing disabled men
- Geelong Advertiser: DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability
- The Australian: Ex-Vic carer jailed for sexual abuse
- 3AW Radio: Craig Handasyde, 48, sentenced to 12 months jail over sexual abuse of eight disabled men in care
DHS disability worker admits abusing deaf, blind patientsBy court reporter Peta Carlyon
A former Department of Human Services disability support worker whose lawyer said he was deeply religious and in denial about this sexuality has admitted abusing a series of male patients over 13 years across Melbourne’s east.
Craig Handasyde, 47, of Croydon, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to 11 charges of committing an indecent act with a cognitively impaired person by a worker.
- Craig Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 charges
- Victims were blind, deaf and unable to communicate
- Handasyde wanted to appear to be a happily married heterosexual man, court heard
- Victim became “very disturbed” after abuse
The abuse occurred across residential facilities in a number of suburbs, and in some cases involved long-term clients between 1998 and 2011.
Most of his victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.
Handasyde also abused his victims at swimming pools, in showers and in one case a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.
In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless.
On at least one occasion he ignored repeated attempts by one victim to push him away.
The court heard Handasyde was a highly qualified disability development services officer with an advanced diploma in disability work.
He had also undertaken a range of extra courses over the years, including “dual disability” and “communications about behaviour for better outcomes”.
Handasyde resigned from the DHS in 2013.
He handed himself in to the sex crimes unit at the Knox police station last year because he “wanted to make admissions about sexually abusing DHS clients over 13 years”.
The court heard Handasyde was a religious man who wanted to clear his conscience in the eyes of God.
Two pastors were among 13 people to provide references for him.
‘A happily married heterosexual man’
Handasyde’s lawyer Paul Higham told the court his client was deeply religious.
He was also homosexual, Mr Higham said, but was intent on presenting himself publicly as “a happily married, heterosexual Christian father,” leading to a secret life.
Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress. You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.
The court heard Handasyde met his wife within the church and wrote her a letter before they got married, telling her he was “same-sex attracted”.
“She struggled to accept it, but accept it she did,” said Mr Higham.
The couple had eight children who were home-schooled and the court heard Handasyde’s wife believed sex was for procreation only.
“What emerges is a picture of a man who is extremely passive and lacks the ability to assert himself,” Mr Higham told the court.
Mr Higham said Handasyde “prefers harmony over conflict”, and described his client’s denial of a large part of his identity as “a tragedy”.
Handasyde’s wife was in court and wept as their home life was detailed to the families of her husband’s victims.
‘I trusted you with my son’: Mother of victim
The courtroom was packed with the parents and relatives of the men Handasyde’s had abused.
The mother of one victim told the court Handasyde’s offending had turned her son into a “very disturbed young man”.
“Craig Handasyde ruined his happy nature,” she said.
“Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress.
“You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.”
The woman told Handasyde she had welcomed him into her family’s home on many occasions and felt betrayed.
“You enjoyed our food and hospitality as a thank you for bringing him home,” she said.
“I always worried whether I’d done the right thing, sending him to Melbourne.
“You’ve proved me right. I trusted you with my son who I love so much.”
The father of another victim told the court his son “could not even understand simple verbal statements” and would “never be able to care for himself”.
The man said he and his wife entrusted their son to a trusted care provider in the DHS and “for many years we thought he was safe”.
“We are very disturbed,” the victim’s father said.
“We can’t ask him about how he felt … the thought of what he [Handasyde] might have been doing … the real torture is not knowing.”
The victim’s father told the court, he and his wife had noticed a marked change in their son’s mental state 15 years ago, when he became more aggressive.
“At the time, there was no reason for his behaviour change,” he said.
“In hindsight, we now wonder if he could have been affected by sexual abuse.”
He told the court, his son would not have been able to tell anyone about the abuse or warn others who were vulnerable and exposed.
Handasyde is expected to be sentenced at a later date.
DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability
- Geelong Advertiser
- September 16, 2015
A GEELONG mother has vowed to continue to fight for her disabled son’s safety after his carer of 15 years was today jailed for sexually abusing him.
The mother, who can’t be named for legal reasons, said she didn’t think the one-year jail term former Department of Human Services disability worker Craig Gilbert Handasyde, 48, received was adequate but she was relieved to see him behind bars.
Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent act with a person with a cognitive disability by a care worker — including three which covered multiple offences — over a 13-year period of offending against eight victims.
The mother told Geelong Advertiser all the victims’ families were hurting and now didn’t know who they could trust.
She said her once-happy son was on more anxiety medication and was deeply traumatised.
The court heard he had repeatedly tried to fend off Handasyde, who had cuddled, masturbated and exposed himself to his victims.
“The only way to stop it happening again is to speak out,” she said.
“All through (my son’s) life I’ve had to fight.”
The mother hopes to see changes made at DHS facilities including CCTV in common areas and a minimum of two staff on at all times.
In sentencing Handasyde to jail and a two-year Community Corrections Order, Judge Gavan Meredith said the victims were defenceless and dependent on Handasyde and their difficulty communicating ensured they couldn’t raise the alarm.
Judge Meredith said the families’ Victim Impact Statements spoke of how the offending had caused them to doubt their decision to place their loved one in care.
He accepted the crimes could only be prosecuted due to Handasyde’s confession and that he would find prison difficult due to his depression and post-traumatic stress, but said his “gross and egregious breach of trust” required it.
Judge Meredith said the community must expect significant punishment for abusing a position of trust. He ordered Handasyde be under supervision and receive psychological treatment for the duration of the CCO.
“Every attendance will serve as a reminder of the inappropriateness of your behaviour,” he said.