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Man whose paedophile father sexually abused his daughter reveals the moment he confronted him

In 1996 Ian Johnston  (pictured left) found out his father had been abusing his daughter Kayleen (pictured right)

A heartbroken man has relived the unthinkable moment he was forced to confront his father about sexually abusing his child – and revealed the seven-word response that turned his life upside down.

In 1996, Ian Johnston’s then seven-year-old daughter Kayleen made the frightening claim that her ‘poppy’ – Ian’s father – had molested her.

Perplexed, terror-stricken and furious all at once, Mr Johnston took a deep breath before he asked a question no father should have to pose.   

When he confronted his father three days after Kayleen’s shocking revelation, he could only come up with a sickening excuse that, to Mr Johnston, confirmed his dad was a paedophile.  

‘It was only a little touch, son,’ the unrepentant father said.

In a candid interview with Daily Mail Australia, Mr Johnston spoke about the awful ordeal experienced by his daughter, now 30, and the struggles they both faced in the aftermath of the abuse. 

Mr Johnston said he had been willing to spend years in prison for ‘slitting the throat’ of the man who abused his daughter – if it hadn’t been his dad.  

‘You always say “if anyone ever touches my daughter I’ll kill them” but when it’s your own father it’s a different ballgame,’ Mr Johnston explained. 

Mr Johnston admits that he spent 10 years struggling with the fact he never inflicted revenge on his father.

‘I spent so long with so much rage. But if I’d killed him I’d have gone to prison. He’d win, I’d lose. But when you’re in that zone you don’t see it like that,’ he said.  

But instead of harming his father, Mr Johnston brought charges against him.

‘I rung him and said “dad, your f****d, I’m pressing charges” and he said “this’ll kill me”… I said “well you’ve already killed me”,’ Mr Johnston explained. 

Alec Johnston pleaded guilty to 22 counts of indecent assault, and was sentenced to four years behind bars. 

Kayleen (pictured) told her father the sickening truth about her grandfather when she was just seven

Kayleen (pictured) told her father the sickening truth about her grandfather when she was just seven

‘The last time I saw him was outside the courthouse in 1996,’ Mr Johnston said. 

‘He died in 2012, and I never went to his funeral. You have to make a choice. Your daughter or your father. I chose my daughter,’ he said. 

Mr Johnston revealed the devastating chain of events that led to the discovery of his father’s shocking crime. 

He and Kayleen had been staying at his parents’ home in New Zealand while his wife Hetty remained at home to work. 

Kayleen suddenly seemed unhappy and frequently burst into tears. 

‘I just thought it was because she was missing her mum,’ Mr Johnston said.

But when Kayleen showed no signs cheering up, Mr Johnston said he started to think something was seriously wrong.

And that’s when he started to notice some of his father’s odd behaviour. 

‘I started to think this isn’t right. Kayleen wasn’t right around dad. He’d always usher her off like “go and look at Poppy’s caravan,” and something just didn’t feel right,’ Mr Johnston said. 

Mr Johnston said after he found out he didn't let Kayleen (pictured) 'out of his sight' and eventually built up the courage to ring and tell his wife

Mr Johnston said after he found out he didn’t let Kayleen (pictured) ‘out of his sight’ and eventually built up the courage to ring and tell his wife

‘It got to bedtime and my dad said he’d made Kayleen her own bedroom up, but I said “do you want to sleep with daddy in the big bed?”‘

Kayleen said ‘yes’, and it was then that Mr Johnston asked his daughter if anyone had touched her inappropriately.

‘She just said “Poppy” and started crying,’ he said.  

Mr Johnston said after that he didn’t let Kayleen ‘out of his sight’ and eventually built up the courage to ring his wife. 

‘I just sort of blurted it out on the phone “dad’s been sexually abusing Kayleen”,’ he said.   

After the disturbing revelation, Mrs Johnston tried to put Mr Johnston in touch with a counsellor.

‘We tried to find a counsellor but there was no counsellor for that in 1996. But we eventually found one,’ Mr Johnston said.  

The counsellor told Mr Johnson that he must confront his father. 

‘I was a mess, I didn’t know how to deal with it. I rang up Hetty and said can you call and pretend your dad’s really ill so we have to leave. I just wanted to get out of there,’ he said. 

Kayleen (pictured right) now works as the corporate partnerships manager at Bravehearts, the organisation her mother Hetty Johnston (pictured centre) founded with the help of Ian Johnston (pictured left)

Kayleen (pictured right) now works as the corporate partnerships manager at Bravehearts, the organisation her mother Hetty Johnston (pictured centre) founded with the help of Ian Johnston (pictured left) 

But after getting his father alone in the garage he confronted him.

‘He admitted it straight away, he said “it was just a little touch”,’ Mr Johnston said. 

‘I said “stay away from me, don’t touch me”.’  

Mr Johnston then turned his back on his father for good. 

Prior to discovering the shocking truth, Mr Johnston said he had had a ‘brilliant’ relationship with his father.  

‘It was amazing, we were like Steptoe and Son. I had a great upbringing too,’ he said. 

Shortly after the family headed home from Australia, Mrs Johnston decided to take matters into her own hands. 

She penned a ten page letter and sent it to the entire family in New Zealand explaining what Mr Johnston’s dad had done. 

Mr Johnston and Kayleen (pictured) are planning to partake in Bravehearts' 777 marathon event

Mr Johnston and Kayleen (pictured) are planning to partake in Bravehearts’ 777 marathon event

‘She sent it to everyone. I didn’t have a good reaction at the time but now I know it was the right thing to do,’ he said.  

‘It was tough on our marriage, and we have a good marriage. It almost broke us up,’ he said. 

But while Hetty had explained exactly what had happened, not all the family could come to terms with the truth. 

And Mr Johnston notes that till this day his step-mother still does not believe the truth. 

He also says his step-mother is in denial and adamant the family didn’t do the right thing by going to police. 

Kayleen (pictured) was just six-years-old when she told her dad the shocking truth

Kayleen (pictured) was just six-years-old when she told her dad the shocking truth 

But when Mr Johnston made the tough decision to bring charges against his father, he said it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. 

‘To sit there and listen to your seven-year-old daughter say in detail all the awful things dad had done was awful. It’s not good for your health,’ he said.  

Once his father was behind bars, Mr Johnston said it helped Kayleen – who still sees a counsellor until this day – deal with what had happened. 

‘Kayleen has had support from her parents. We believed her supported her and went to the police,’ he said. 

‘Paedophiles blame the kids. My father told Kayleen he’d put her on a plane back to Australia and she wouldn’t have anyone if she told anyone what he was doing,’ Mr Johnston said. 

‘But when Kayleen saw he was going to prison for what he’d done she starts to realise it wasn’t my fault, it was his.

‘She still struggles with anger and did break down a few weeks ago in tears.’ 

Mr Johnston said talking about it now has helped Kayleen. 

‘It helps to get it out of your system as it’s so prevalent,’ he said. 

He also reminisced about one occasion when Kayleen had come face to face with his step-mother again at a friend’s funeral.

And despite all that her husband had inflicted upon Kayleen and her refusal to believe what had happened,  Kayleen went ‘above and beyond’ to be polite and have a chat with her. 

‘She went above and beyond…I gave her a big kiss and a cuddle and said I’m so proud of you,’ he said. 

To anyone who is struggling with similar issues, Mr Johnston said the most important thing was to ‘believe your child’.   

‘Support your kids. Believe your children and that’s the problem, adults don’t believe the kids,’ he said. 

‘Educate your kids. Believe your kids and act on it as tough as it is. Sometimes you do need to cross a really tough sands.’ 

His wife has since dedicated her life to helping other children.

Mr Johnston and Kayleen are planning to take part in Bravehearts' 777 marathon event in just a few weeks time

Mr Johnston and Kayleen are planning to take part in Bravehearts’ 777 marathon event in just a few weeks time 

‘Politicians still aren’t listening. They’re not looking after the kids,’Mr Johnston said. 

‘There was nothing in that budget about the kids. My wife was in tears when it was being read out.

‘That’s why Hetty is running in the upcoming Federal Election in Queensland as an Independent.’

Since the horrific experience, the family have created Bravehearts – Australia’s leading child protection organisation.

It was founded by Mrs Johnston, with the help of Mr Johnson, shortly after Kayleen’s abuse was uncovered in 1997.

It helps to provide advice and support to those affected by child sexual assault.

Kayleen now works as the companies’ corporate partnerships manager, and says she thinks of herself as ‘lucky’ because of the support she received from her parents.

‘If I was another child in any other family, Bravehearts would not exist today but having a happy childhood or supportive environment should not come down to luck,’ Kayleen said. 

And now Mr Johnston and Kayleen are planning to take part in Bravehearts’ 777 marathon event.

Having never previously run a marathon, Kayleen and Ian will join 21 other runners competing in seven marathons across seven states in seven days, to raise money for the charity.  

‘[I am] so determined to share my story and raise awareness of the incredible work we do by entering this crazy event,’ Kayleen said.  

Starting in Perth on July 1, the Bravehearts’ 777 will work its way through Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Sydney and Canberra before culminating at the Gold Coast Marathon on Sunday, July 7. 

‘It’s such a boost for the national runners when locals make the effort to join them, even for a lap or two,’ Kayleen said. 

‘It’s like a mini-festival when we roll into town. The atmosphere is amazing.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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