Predators’ horrifying link
Paedophiles used camping association to gain access to thousands of children
TWO paedophiles used their executive positions in the Camping Association of South Australia to secure access to thousands of children at church and youth camps during the 1980s and 1990s.
One of the offenders, Vivian Deboo, 74, was jailed this week for sexually assaulting two boys in the early 1990s – one at a Catholic convent where Deboo was catering for a retreat and one at his cafe in Victor Harbor.
Deboo was president of the Camping Association for seven years before he stepped down in the mid-1990s. He was convicted in 1996 of child sex offences against three boys in the early 1990s.
The second paedophile on the CASA executive was Robert Brandenburg who for many years was the Camping Association’s administrative officer.
Brandenburg was a prolific child sex offender in Anglican youth group, the Church of England Boys Society.
He was a leader in the CEBS, which promoted camping and held national camps.
Brandenburg was facing 375 counts of sexual assault of children when he was found dead in 1999, according to the findings of Case Study 36 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Advertiser can now reveal that Deboo knew Brandenburg from at least the mid1980s when the two men worked together to host a camping seminar for the fledgling Camping Association in 1984.
Brandenburg and Deboo held executive positions at the same time in CASA, enabling them to design and implement an accreditation program for church and youth group camp sites around the state.
As early as the 1980s, Deboo wrote in a CASA publication that the executive had decided to introduce “safety standards” for the 63 organisations in the Association and charging them annual mem- bership fees. Member organisations included several church denominations as well as youth organisations, including Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
Documents shown to The Advertiser indicate that Brandenburg recommended Deboo’s catering business to camp operators, giving Deboo trusted access to hundreds of children.
Deboo and his wife Margaret advertised their business in the annual CASA camping directory, claiming to have catered for 32 years at more than 40 campsites in South Australia. Through endorsements by Brandenburg, Deboo catered at Anglican campsites including the infamous Harrogate campsite.
Two victims of Deboo, brothers “A” and “B”, who saw their attacker jailed this week, believe there could be many more victims. He was arrested in December 2016, but waited until the day before his District Court trial to plead guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault and gross indecency.
“Deboo groomed parents and children, silenced his victims and appears to have been protected by the institutions that employed him,” one of the brothers, who cannot be named, said. The Camping Association of South Australia was wound up in the early 2000s and a new national body, the Australian Camps Association was formed in 2006.
President of the ACA Andrew McGuckian said he was not aware of the paedophiles in the precursor organisation and was shocked and surprised by the revelations.
Baptist Churches South Australia executive minister Mike Mills confirmed this week that Deboo was a member of the Victor Harbor Baptist church in the 1980s and contacted the brothers he assaulted via his church connections.
“It does not appear that (Deboo) has abused children at church functions but he had built the relationship with the children through the churches,” Rev Mills said.
The Advertiser sought comment from the Catholic Church but did not receive a reply.
Anglican Diocese of Adelaide spokesman Peter March said the Diocese was aware that Brandenburg had engaged Deboo to be a caterer at an Anglican campsite.
Mr March said the Diocese did not have any current complaints from victims of Deboo or any current civil claims related to his offending. PAGES 56-57: QUEST LEADS TO DARK WEB OF PREDATORS
CONNECTED: Vivian Deboo before being jailed.
INSIDIOUS: Camping Association of SA administrative officer and paedophile Bob Brandenburg, above left, and an advertisement for Deboo’s catering business, below.