A notorious pedophile who abused boys for decades in the Geelong area took some of his victims to Footscray Football Club in the late 1970s, say two men who survived abuse.
- Notorious Geelong area pedophile John Coogan took victims to Footscray Football Club
- Two abuse survivors told ABC Sport that Coogan took them to the club, where he was a volunteer masseur
- Coogan is the third pedophile linked to the Bulldogs in the 1970s and 1980s
Disclaimer: This story contains details about grooming boys.
John Patrick “Jack” Coogan, a physical education teacher who abused school children in Geelong in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and was convicted of a series of child sex offenses in the mid-1990s , took his victims to the inner sanctum of the Western Oval, now home to the AFL’s Western Bulldogs.
The men told ABC Sport that trips to the Western Oval, which took place on club practice nights between 1976 and 1978, were part of Coogan’s preparation process.
They were not abused on club premises, but Coogan knew the boys were football enthusiasts and used the travels to manipulate them. Both were around 12 at the time and were introduced to Bulldogs players and other staff, and received autographs.
Both men say Coogan clearly played a voluntary role at Footscray Football Club, most likely as a coach, as Coogan was on good terms with the players and gave them massages.
“He had access to all areas of Footscray,” one of the men told ABC Sport.
“He used to massage all the players and seemed to have a thigh fetish. He massaged with oil or deep heat.
ABC Sport saw a 1993 police statement in which the other man detailed Coogan’s horrific and ongoing abuse in the 1970s.
The statement includes details of an incident of abuse in Coogan’s office at St Joseph’s College, Geelong, after which the boy was allegedly taken to the Western Oval by Coogan and another man in a car driven by Bill Goggin, while Footscray coach.
In the statement, the man details an alleged argument between Coogan and Goggin, and the boy’s feeling that Goggin was unhappy with Coogan taking the boy on the road trip.
The pair say Coogan introduced them to Goggin, the Geelong Football Club legend who coached Footscray between 1976 and 1978 and then coached Geelong between 1980 and 1982.
ABC Sport is not suggesting that Goggin knew about the abuse, only that he was an acquaintance of Coogan.
Goggin told ABC Sport he was unaware of Coogan’s offense at the time and claimed that Coogan had no official coaching role at Footscray when Goggin was coaching.
Goggin said he met Coogan while coaching VFA club Geelong West, where Coogan was also involved.
Of Coogan’s offense, Goggin told ABC Sport: “I didn’t know anything about it. If we had known, we probably would have said something or done something, I don’t know. But I don’t. I never suspected it. I don’t remember anything.”
Goggin said he had no memory of Coogan in his car, or Coogan taking a boy, or an argument about the car trip.
“I wouldn’t even allow that,” Goggin said.
In the 1990s, Coogan – who also taught at North Geelong High and Bell Park High School – was jailed for five years on 17 counts of indecent assault against several boys aged between 10 and 15. The offenses took place between 1962 and 1983.
In response to questions from ABC Sport, the Western Bulldogs declined to comment on the matter and Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains said the club had no annual report from the 1970s to confirm whether Coogan held any official titles at the club. .
Coogan was the third sex offender linked to the Footscray Football Club in the 1970s and 1980s.
In May, an ABC Sport investigation revealed harrowing abuse suffered by boys at the hands of Footscray fundraiser and steward Graeme Hobbs and John Wayland, the “ringleader” of a pedophile ring who admitted to ABC Sport that he met Hobbs during a stint as Footscray coach.
Hobbs used Footscray match tickets, membership medallions and cash to groom the boys in the Western Oval stands before abusing them in club offices and social club facilities.
Adam Kneale, a survivor of seven years of abuse by Hobbs, has revealed the devastating extent of his suffering in the years that followed.
Kneale’s attorneys later filed a Supreme Court writ against the Western Bulldogs, seeking damages.
Like Coogan, Hobbs and Wayland both received long prison sentences in the 1990s for their offenses. Coogan and Hobbs have since died.