Then aged 13, Mr Quagliata was a “shy” and “withdrawn” boy but an avid sports fan who jumped at the chance when a coach from the cricket club in his small Queensland town asked if he wanted to join.
The offer was made by Bob Ross, a man held in high regard by many locals, but someone Mr Quagliata came to view as nothing more than “a gutless predator”.
The cricket coach was groundsman at the local high school in the 1990s and on the regional cricket board.
“He was up there in the community, pretty well known by everyone and well liked,” Mr Quagliata, now 40, told the royal commission inquiry into child protection procedures in sporting institutions yesterday.
His evidence comes as the treasurer of the club, known as BMX, revealed today that he had heard just last week that another club member may have known about the abuse 20 years before charges were laid.
Mr Quagliata told the royal commission he didn’t feel he could report the abuse to the cricket club — and he and two other sex abuse survivors who gave evidence yesterday said no one from the club or Queensland Cricket had ever contacted them.
Officials from the organisation today are giving evidence about the relationship between the statewide association and its affiliate clubs.
The commission is examining what procedures high-profile sporting organisations have in place to prevent child sex abuse and to investigate complaints.
Mr Quagliata said the sexual abuse began with Ross fondling him through his pants and then spread to oral sex. “While he was abusing me I would block it out, I would go somewhere else mentally and try to block it out.”
The abuse happened at the cricket sheds and in Ross’ car, where he would hand him pornographic magazines while the abuse was happening. Most occasions it was after Mr Quagliata had mowed the fields.
“When he finished, he’d give me the money and I’d go.”
The abuse continued for three years and ended just before his 16th birthday when Mr Quagliata suffered an internal injury. He told no one about what happened, because he was scared of being ridiculed, or being labelled gay.
Instead he suffered in silence, until he couldn’t cope with seeing Ross around the school grounds and he quit.
His grades had suffered and he had began to abuse drugs. At one point he tried to take his own life in the backyard. He told no one.
“I didn’t feel like I could report it to the cricket club ... My biggest fear was that no one would believe me.”
Officials from the cricket club will face the royal commission on Wednesday.
He recalled a time when his cousin was targeted by some in the town who said he was gay. Mr
Quagliata feared the stigma attached to that and didn’t want his or his family’s name “trashed”.
“The town was a little gossip town and I didn’t want to be part of that gossip.”
In his submission to the royal commission he said not much was known about child sex abuse at the time.
He said he’d been jailed on more than one occasion and only survived through the support of his former wife and his current partner.
Ross took his own life in 2014 after Queensland police charged him with more than 50 offences relating to the sex abuse of boys at a cricket club in the rural town.
“I want people to know that Bob Ross was not the person they thought he was. He was a gutless predator,” he said.
Mr Quagliata hoped for some closure when Ross was being made to stand up in court in 2014.
“I get more and more angry that he wasn’t man enough to admit what he had done to me and others. He was a gutless bastard”.
BMX, the club treasurer, told the child abuse royal commission on Wednesday he heard a rumour last week that a member of the club had been made aware of the abuse allegations.
“The president told me that there was a rumour that a past member of the club had been made aware that there had been abuse committed by Bob,” he said, adding he didn’t know about the allegations until Ross told the club he was being investigated in September 2014.
BMX said there was nothing in the club records between the 1980s and 2014 to indicate anyone was aware of the allegations against Ross.
When Ross notified the club in September 2014 that he being investigated by police, BMX said the management committee made an effort to contact members who were around during the time of the alleged offences, but no one said they had knowledge of the abuse.
He also said the club made no attempt to find out more details about the allegations made against Ross.
“We didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask questions about a live police investigation,” he told a commission hearing in Sydney. “I wouldn’t have thought they’d be forthcoming with any information.”
While older club members were asked about their knowledge of alleged abuse by Ross, BMX said he couldn’t be sure whether junior members, of which there are about 70, or their parents had been questioned.
Ross, who was a groundsman and club patron, still had involvement with young children until the club was made aware of the police investigation.
“This would be an assumption, that our junior co-ordinator would have liaised with parents at the time,” BMX said.
He said he believed Ross’ charges were brought up at a general meeting as a way of making club members aware — but this did not occur until after he died.
The club has since put in place a Cricket Australia member protection policy and is considering training to make parents aware of it.
Evidence from BMX is continuing, with Queensland Cricket chairman James Holding expected to take the stand later on Wednesday.
The commission has previously heard from a woman who says she contracted HIV from her soccer coach after he began raping her when she was eight-years-old.