Outrage over abuse claims
FRIENDS of the late Terry Buck have slammed claims he abused a number of elite Australian swimmers.
The Tweed Heads and Coolangatta swimming community was in shock yesterday over child sex abuse allegations against the former Australian swim team coach and manager.
A Sydney newspaper yesterday said a former Australian swim team captain and Olympic medallist had spoken out in frustration after a police strike force set up to investigate allegations against Mr Buck was wound up in mysterious circumstances.
The swimmer had allegedly been approached by detectives to detail his own experiences as a victim. He said he co-operated with police, handing investigators a list of 29 other victims dating back to the 1960s in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Mr Buck was well known in the Tweed area through the Terry Buck Swim School at Banora Point and his involvement with the Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club.
Mr Buck died almost five years ago in a tractor accident on his property at Carool.
David Strotton, who was president of the Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club during Mr Buck’s time with the organisation, yesterday questioned the allegations’ credibility.
“I think it’s all fabricated,” said Mr Strotton, who is the current president of the Coolangatta Surf Life Saving supporters’ club.
Mr Strotton said he knew Mr Buck as both a coach and a friend.
“He coached kids all his life and never had a problem.
“He was terrific; a great guy; very well liked.
“He was a fantastic bloke.”
Mr Strotton described Mr Buck as a family man.
“I couldn’t say a bad word about him,” he said.
“His death was a sad loss; he was first class.”
Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club president Jim Purdon said members were yesterday in shock and disbelief.
“Generally, members had the utmost respect for Terry and his family,” Mr Purdon said.
Mr Purdon said he did not know Mr Buck personally, as he had only met him briefly.
“People that worked with him have nothing but respect for him.
“He was held in very, very high regard.”
Mr Buck’s son-in-law Adrian yesterday declined to comment.
Swimming Australia chief executive Kevin Neil said he was appalled by the allegations levelled at Mr Buck.
“Swimming Australia has never received any complaints in relation to Terry Buck,” Mr Neil told reporters.
“While I did not know Terry, many, many people speak very highly of him.”
Mr Neil said Swimming Australia has no record of Strike Force Solano, the group investigating the claims, but he added they have agreed to co-operate with any reopened investigation.
The Sydney newspaper said Strike Force Solano spent five months investigating the allegations after the Sydney Olympic Games but was disbanded in April 2001 with little explanation despite the willingness of the swimmer, his younger brother and a third man to testify.
The whistleblower is demanding police reopen the investigation.
A spokesman for Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has confirmed the original brief was not forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, even though senior detectives had “no doubt” about the honesty and integrity of those making the allegations.
The commissioner’s office said the decision to end the investigation was based on advice from the police legal affairs branch in early 2001 that there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.