Former Western Bulldogs Volunteer Accused of Abuse Faces Lawsuit


Summary: A former volunteer of the Western Bulldogs football club is being sued for damages by a victim of historical sexual abuse. The victim, Adam Kneale, claims that the club turned a blind eye to the sexual predator, Graeme Hobbs, who preyed on young boys at the club four decades ago. Kneale’s lawyers argue that the club was negligent in failing to take action against Hobbs and is liable for the lifelong damage that Kneale suffered. The trial is ongoing.

Adam Kneale, now 51, is suing the Western Bulldogs football club for damages, alleging that the club ignored the actions of Graeme Hobbs, a former volunteer who sexually abused young boys at the club in the past. Kneale’s lawyers assert that the club was negligent in not taking action against Hobbs and should be held responsible for the lasting harm inflicted upon Kneale. Hobbs, nicknamed Chops, is described as a ‘sick and disturbed sexual predator’ who allegedly raped Kneale numerous times over a period of seven years. The abuse has led to Kneale developing substance addictions and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, which have affected his ability to work.
According to barrister Tim Hammond, Hobbs used his role at the club to manipulate and abuse young boys like Kneale. Hammond argues that Hobbs made money for the Footscray Football Club while Kneale paid the price. The lawyers maintain that the club’s leaders should have been aware of Hobbs’ actions, as he held an ‘integral part’ in the organization and received recognition for his volunteering and fundraising efforts. The abuse against Kneale began when he was just 11 years old in 1984 and continued in various locations associated with the club, including offices, change rooms, toilets, and even on a trip to Sydney. Hobbs also allegedly exposed Kneale to other pedophiles who further assaulted him during his teenage years. Kneale reported Hobbs to the police in 1993, and the case received coverage in the local newspaper.
The club’s defense, led by Jack Rush KC, does not deny the occurrence of sexual abuse but claims that the former club leaders were unaware of Hobbs’ actions. Rush emphasizes that the events took place four decades ago and that the conduct of the club at the time was appropriate. The defense intends to call former Bulldogs president Peter Gordon and ex-CEO Dennis Galimberti to testify in the civil jury trial. Kneale is seeking financial compensation for the pain, lost earnings, and aggravated damages, with the hope of sending a message to the football club. The trial is ongoing, and Kneale will be the first prosecution witness, supported by other victims of Hobbs, his family members, medical experts, and former journalist Derryn Hinch, who reported on child sex abuse cases at the time.

Tags: Western Bulldogs, sexual abuse, lawsuit, victim, Graeme Hobbs, negligence, damages, trial