The Queensland government paid child-sex predator Bob Montgomery to help 'protect' children

Bob Montgomery was jailed in 2020 for multiple child sexual assaults.

A celebrity psychologist now in jail for child sex offences was hired by the Queensland Government for years to assess the risk of paedophiles to children in its care.

ABC's Background Briefing has revealed Bob Montgomery was commissioned by Queensland's Department of Child Safety as an expert psychologist more than 20 times before he was jailed last year for raping boys in the 1960s.

A former child protection worker said case managers did not want to use Montgomery because "his reports always returned a 'low risk' to children", but he was one of the few experts in the field.

Documents obtained by the ABC under Right to Information laws show the one-time Big Brother psychologist charged up to $5,000 a report, receiving almost $70,000 from the department between 2009 and 2016.

Max*, who was raped by Montgomery at the age of 13, said it was "a hell of a lot of money paid by the government to this fellow who was actually living an incredible lie and deceiving everyone".

'Max' was raped by convicted sex predator Bob Montgomery at the age of 13.

An improbable rise

A Background Briefing investigation has traced Montgomery's improbable rise from undetected serial predator and psychiatric patient to one of Australia's most influential psychologists and a go-to expert for authorities on sex offenders.

"I'm perplexed as to how he, with any degree of conscience, could navigate his way through that career and deceive so many people along the way," Max said.

"It's absurd that someone should even contemplate doing that and thinking they could get away with it."

Background Briefing has also found Montgomery was recruited to head up Bond University's psychology department in 1994 by another high-profile academic who was later jailed for child sex offences, the criminologist Paul Wilson.

Montgomery was also president of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and a Family Court-appointed expert in custody disputes involving child sex abuse claims.

A prolific media commentator who once boasted to a newspaper "my IQ is actually beyond measure", Montgomery appeared on TV shows including Big Brother, the Biggest Loser, the 7.30 Report and the Don Lane Show.

He is also the brother of James Alwyn Montgomery, a fraudster, bigamist and military impostor. By examining James' history, a psychiatrist in the US found him to have strong psychopathic traits.

Psychiatrist Warwick Middleton, one of the world's leading experts on trauma who has treated victims of high-profile Australian abusers, told Background Briefing that Bob Montgomery could also be a psychopath.

"Everything that is on the public record is not inconsistent with somebody who has significant psychopathy and who seemingly is fairly narcissistic," Dr Middleton said.

"He seems to take an inordinate sort of pleasure in his achievements and prominence."

Dr Warwick Middleton said Bob Montgomery could be a psychopath. (ABC News: Tracey Shelton)

Reports 'always returned a low risk'

Montgomery was used as a report writer and expert witness by child protection workers in Brisbane, Logan, the Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one former child protection worker said that she was "shocked" to learn of Montgomery's historical child sex offences, but at the same time she was also "not surprised".

"Because his reports always returned a 'low risk' to children, it became questionable," she said.

"We just didn't want to use him. But he was the only one that we knew of that completed risk assessments on offenders that had been convicted of crimes against children.

"Sometimes, the feedback from team leaders was, 'That's all we've got to use', or 'Don't even bother with that family because it's going to come back low risk anyway'."

While his reports "didn't change the outcome in court … it made our job harder" when pressing for conditions around offenders' contact with children, she said.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs said Montgomery was used as a report writer "prior to the establishment" of its in-house legal unit.

"In making its decisions on child protection cases, the department relies on a range of evidence – Mr Montgomery's reports were but one piece of the evidence considered," the spokeswoman said.

Justin Dowd, a former New South Wales Law Society president and one of Australia's most experienced family lawyers, said "the fact [Montgomery] was involved in so many cases specifically involving care of children is enormously disturbing".

He said Montgomery was given "special recognition as somebody who can make recommendations to the court about what's in the best interests of children".

"It is a role that courts rely on heavily, so to have somebody in that position who has their own secret agenda is very disturbing indeed."

'I felt I had to be compliant'

Max was sexually assaulted by Montgomery, then his 22-year-old Sydney Catholic school teacher, while on a camping trip in 1966.

He said it took half a century before he learned there were other victims.

He told no one about the abuse at the time.

"It was painful, uncomfortable. I felt I had to just do what he said because he was my adult friend, an authority figure. I felt I had to be compliant and didn't know any better," Max said.

Three years earlier, Montgomery raped another 13-year-old boy in his care as a Scouts leader, but this also went unreported to police.

But Scouts NSW terminated Montgomery's membership in June 1965 after concerns were raised by parents about his behaviour with other children.

Scouts NSW said in a 2019 statement it cooperated with the recent investigation over several years and gave police as much information as possible.

After he was kicked out of Scouts in June 1965, Montgomery entered a Sydney psychiatric facility for treatment.

Months later, with nothing on his record to show what he'd done, he landed a job at Max's school.

Max said Montgomery's grooming of him included showing him a research lab with caged mice at the University of Sydney where Montgomery was studying psychology.

Max said years later others discouraged him from pursuing charges against Montgomery "due to the fact that it will be just too hard, he's too powerful, he's got too many rich or powerful or influential friends and I'd be outgunned".

'Max', at about 13 years of age. He says it's absurd Montgomery was able to get away with his deception. (Supplied)

But in 2016 he gave evidence to the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, which led to a phone call from a NSW detective.

When he learned during the police investigation that there was another man alleging rape by Montgomery, Max said his shock gave way to "relief — they can't not believe me".

"There were other victims out there but just a few that were prepared to stand up [in court]," he said.

Montgomery denied the offences when he was arrested in 2019.

But last year he pleaded guilty to eight charges involving four victims, including two counts of buggery – the only charge applicable at the time – and five counts of indecent assault.

'The perfect con'

On December 7, 2020, Montgomery was sentenced to four years' jail in the NSW District Court.

Police braced for more victims in the wake of publicity around the court case but none have come forward.

Montgomery's wife Laurel Morris said he had confessed to the family about his offending before his arrest but "spent his whole life trying to make good".

She said it wasn't fair to suggest "somebody who's done something wrong when they were young, that they've never changed". She added she didn't believe it would make somebody's work biased.

A psychological report commissioned by Montgomery's lawyers said there was no evidence of psychopathy and that Montgomery was remorseful.

Dr Middleton said a diagnosis for psychopathy — a partly-genetic form of anti-social behaviour which "in simple terms [means] a person who has no conscience" — would require a proper, lengthy assessment. 

But the facts of Montgomery's offending against his extensive public "pronouncements" suggested someone who could be a psychopath, he said.

"Not a lot of humility coming across is what I'm picking up … Bob Montgomery's life was just one giant lie," he said.

Dr Middleton said Montgomery's professional status was "the perfect con".

"When you're overly sympathetic to sex offenders under the guise of being an expert, you're also rationalising your own behaviour," he said.

Dr Middleton said it was unusual for an offender with multiple victims like Montgomery to "suddenly shut down [after] moving up to severe trauma, anal rape and things of that nature by the time he was in his early 20s".

He said he thought the coincidence of Montgomery working alongside Wilson was "a bit incredible".

"One of the things I've noticed over the years is the propensity for child sex offenders to find other child sex offenders. It's almost like they have greeting cards somehow," he said.

A Bond University spokesman said: "While Bob Montgomery left the university two decades ago, we are deeply disturbed and concerned that a man who operated under the pretence of being a person entrusted to help survivors, had actually been a perpetrator of serious crimes.

"We extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the survivors."

The Australian Psychological Society declined an interview request with the ABC. 

*Name has been changed

Source : https://amp.abc.net.au/article/100272888

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