Former students of a confessed Sydney pedophile have called for much stronger protections in the dance industry to guard other children against harm.
Grant Davies co-founded RG Dance studio in 2001 before bombarding his students with sexually-charged messages, humiliating children in front of others, and abusing one boy for more than a year.
Members of the predator’s family allegedly witnessed episodes of his inappropriate behaviour and told students to keep quiet, while others around him turned a blind eye, the child abuse royal commission has heard.
One boy was in year seven when Davies, a man he looked up to as a father figure, began sexually assaulting him on a weekly basis.
The abuse continued for more than a year between 2003 and 2004.
“It is difficult to think of a time when he didn’t abuse me on the Thursday evenings he drove me home,” he told the commission in Sydney on Friday.
The survivor kept the abuse to himself for about six years, before seeking professional help and later reporting the matter to police.
Another survivor spoke of private lessons held behind windowless doors, skimpy costumes kids as young as three were forced to wear without underwear, and Davies’ propensity to ridicule and dote on his students in equal measure.
The girl told of splitting the crotch of her shorts during a group rehearsal at the inner-west Sydney studio, and asking Davies to skip a part of the routine where she lifted her leg above her head.
He made a crude joke to fits of giggles from other students, before making her do the move.
The survivor said Davies’ sister, Rebecca, had been sitting in on the lesson and urged students not to tell their parents about what he had said.
Rebecca Davies denies the allegations.
In early 2007, word was spreading around the studio that Davies had sent one student a message detailing a sexual dream he had about her and another young girl.
He had already offered to chaperone the girl on an overseas trip.
The survivor and her mother decided Davies’ behaviour had gone too far.
He’d sent her a barrage of late-night messages, laced with inappropriate questions and words of affection such as “I can’t go to sleep until you tell me you love me”.
They agreed to go to police in 2007, but withdrew once a key witness pulled out.
The commission heard the girl and her mother were shunned after taking part in the investigation, but things at RG Dance remained unchanged, eroding their trust in the dance community.
“Somehow Grant was able to continue his conduct and behaviour for so many years,” her mother said.
The pair later took part in fresh police proceedings against Davies in 2013.
The young woman, now a dance teacher herself, called for working with children checks, windows in all classrooms, and mandatory reporting of at-risk children across all dance centres and studios.
Davies is in custody awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to 28 charges including sexual intercourse with a child and using children to make pornography.
The public hearing continues on Monday.