Generic, girl, silhouette. Photo Thinkstock
Generic, girl, silhouette. Photo Thinkstock Contributed

'Two months jail but my granddaughter's suffering goes on'

THE family of a 10-year-old girl says she's been left traumatised, still wets the bed and is terrified of strangers almost a year after a man exposed himself and masturbated in front of her.

A Woodgate woman said the two-month jail term handed to the 67-year-old man was not enough to make up for the pain and suffering her granddaughter was enduring, and would continue to endure for some time to come.

John DeBoer was sentenced in Bundaberg District Court on September 7 to two months jail and three years probation for wilfully and unlawfully exposing a child under 12 to an indecent act.

The victim's grandmother, who cannot be named to protect the girl's identity, spoke to the NewsMail in the hope other families wouldn't have to be put through the emotional, fracturing experience her family had.

It was the last Sunday of the January school holidays when the young girl, who was holidaying at her grandmother's, was subjected to the disturbing act.

The grandmother said in hindsight there were warning signs, but it was not something she ever thought the man - who lived a few doors away at the time - would do.

"It's very hard to believe that someone's going to hurt your family like this," she said.

"My granddaughter had been staying for two weeks and one day she came back from the beach and said, 'that's the man that followed us to the beach'. And I said, 'don't be silly, a man can be going to the beach without having to follow you'. "

I was thinking you can't go and accuse a neighbour of something like that. And then on the Sunday, the last day she was there, she walked out and that's when he exposed himself and masturbated."

With the girl's mother just metres away but out of sight, DeBoer's act was incredibly brazen.

Thankfully her granddaughter, then aged nine, had the sense to run home.

"Thank God she was stranger savvy because the next child might not be," she said.

"I'm so proud of my granddaughter - she made a fist at him. I didn't know this until I was in court.

"She was that brave, but then she came home and just broke down for days.

"She was absolutely petrified, so much so now that she still wets the bed 10 months on and she's still wetting the bed."

Also fearing what the girl's father would do, the grandmother said she and her daughter-in-law kept the incident a secret until the family returned home.

"We couldn't tell my son straight away, we had to keep this to ourselves until he was home," she said.

"While he was at Woodgate he just couldn't be told. That was the hardest thing of all, not telling him."

The grandmother said the family had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions and to know DeBoer was already halfway through just a two-month jail term devastating.

"I'm so angry. Two months is a joke," she said.

"My daughter-in-law is absolutely devastated. In court she just sobbed; it's been too much for her.

"We were going to appeal, but we thought we couldn't go through another year of anger and hate and the trauma like we have these last few months. It just drains you.

"My granddaughter will never get over it; it will always be in the back of her mind."

The woman said the family was trying not to talk about the terrifying incident in front of her to allow her to forget it, but the scars were still fresh in the young girl's memory.

"She comes up here and she'll ask, 'is that man down the road?'

"And I say, 'no, he's in prison'. But she still makes sure all the doors and windows are locked."

Knowing the incident happened while her granddaughter was staying with her has also been agonising for the grandmother.

"What really upsets me is that it was on my shift," the woman said.

"I was looking after the children and I wasn't aware.

"People go to Woodgate thinking it's a nice safe place, but you never know who's lurking behind the trees these days."

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