National Ambassador Sascha Chandler Featured In The Daily Telegraph

22 March 2017






Child abuse victim’s fightback against child sex predators

SERIAL child sex predator Andrew Dean McIntosh inflicted more than physical and emotional damage on his teenage victim at one of Sydney’s most prestigious private schools — he left his calling card inside Sascha Chandler’s head.

“The only voice I had in my head was McIntosh telling me to keep secrets and that I wouldn’t be believed,” Chandler says of the traumatic period when he was groomed, abused and raped by the notorious paedophile.

“I wish I had known what I do now … I could have told someone and I would have been believed and he couldn’t hurt me and I wouldn’t have the shame. I still feel to this day that if I had been in one of the protective behaviour programs (now available) it would have made a difference.”

The high-flying former global banker, now a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ risk assurance division, is courageously prepared to relive the horrors he was forced to endure as a student at Barker College in Sydney’s north so that others may not fall victim to child sex offenders.

The father of four children aged four to 14 has signed on as a national ambassador for the Act For Kids charity, which provides free therapy and treatment and has a waiting list of victims desperately in need of help.

The therapy Chandler, 41, received after his ordeal at the hands of McIntosh who, at the time was a cadet corps organiser at Barker, empowered him to pursue the sex offender, press charges and get him locked up.

In 2011 Judge Michael Finnane sentenced McIntosh, 53, to 32 years in prison, which was later reduced to 24 years with a non-parole period of 18 years.

At Barker, McIntosh quickly zeroed in on the then 14-year-old Sascha Chandler, following a grooming pattern he had used on other victims, winning the teen’s trust and befriending his family.

Chandler then suffered years of abuse but later found the strength to develop a stellar career in banking.

After his first child was born he decided to face down his demons and pursue the paedophile to bring him to justice.

Act For Kids, which puts children’s lives back together after their childhood has been taken through abuse or neglect, has 42 cases on its books at Blacktown in Sydney’s west and a similar number waiting.

“No matter how many kids they see, the list just keeps growing,” Chandler says.

“I wanted to give something back and PwC has a focus on community outcomes and passion to make a difference,” he says.

“It is a beautiful values alignment to bring about change. Act For Kids is arming children with the ability to identify right from wrong (behaviours) when kids interact with adults.”

Chandler delivers his message to detectives who work on sex abuse cases, to students in primary schools and to families he meets at neutral venues such as cafes.

“We talk about approaches for taking evidence from victims so they can get through that process and the delivery of evidence in court, which can be such a daunting place.

“Many victims won’t come forward because they believe they will go through hell for no outcome. It can be 18 months before they (victims) get into court and once they light the fuse to do so they can be riddled with anxiety.”

Chandler urges the victims he comes into contact with to “understand the power of truth and the delivery of it”.

“It is not a revenge process as revenge feelings can be destructive — it’s a social protection process, as we know that most perpetrators reoffend,” he says.

Chandler hopes the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will plot a new course for the future and enable people to have faith that they will be better protected.

“It is so sad that we have to put little lives back together, but we are learning from our mistakes. Now people are more aware of behaviours that can be indicative of a problem.

“It is important for those caring for kids to know how to react,” he says.

Act for Kids, through its national network of 22 centres from Adelaide to Cape York Peninsula, has helped thousands of children and families who experience or are at risk of child abuse.

Chandler has told the Royal Commission, which has examined how the criminal justice system handles sex abuse cases, that fundamental changes are needed, including better training for first-response police and better communication by prosecutors with survivor witnesses.

Figures released by the Commission show that over 35 years, 4444 people reported to superiors within the Catholic Church that they had been a victim of abuse.

Ninety per cent of the abuse victims were boys aged 11-12 on average. The average time between the alleged abuse and the date of a claim was 33 years.

Exclusive article originally published in The Daily Telegraph on 17 March, 2017.