Edward ‘Eddie’ Graham, an ex-RAF officer with two commendations appeared before the Military Court at Bulford, Wiltshire, on 10 November 2014. He was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for sexual assaults against children, after being found guilty on 9 October 2014 for all of the charges against him.
The offences had been committed during Graham’s two tours in Germany in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, while he was serving at the RAF base in Gatow, Berlin, as an intelligence officer. Graham was charged with assaulting 13 boys between the ages of five and 14 during this period, with most of his victims being around 10 to 12 years old. Graham admitted committing offences against nine of them and the remaining four victims, now grown men, gave compelling evidence against him at trial.
RAF base and facilities used by Graham to access victims to abuse
Graham was a Cub Scout leader during his first tour in Germany in the 1970’s, progressing to a Scout leader during his second tour in the 1980’s. Most of his victims were children in his troops, who he would assault during camping trips.
Graham used his position at work and in the scouting movement to gain the trust of the community and become a role model for young boys, who he would then abuse. He also operated outside of Scout groups, offering children lessons in music and other activities, and used RAF facilities and countryside around the base to assault them.
The Judge highlighted Graham’s shameful methods in his sentencing remarks, stating:
“Parents…..trusted you with their young sons…Parents expected you to care for them, educate them and broaden their experiences of life. Instead you targeted, molested and corrupted them.”
The impact of the abuse on Graham’s victims
Moving sections from the witnesses’ Victim Impact statements were read out in Court during Graham’s sentencing hearing. Many showed a common thread of men growing up with a number of emotional and psychological issues and suffering from continuing problems that have affected their careers, relationships and families. Further statements were provided by some of the victims’ families regarding the distressing effects on their lives, but were not read out. The Judge characterised the statements as “difficult reading”, further commenting:
“Your actions have destroyed relationships, damaged – some might say wrecked – many lives beyond repair and what you did will affect them and their families for many years to come. You accepted in evidence that you came to realise the likely effect of your offending some time afterwards. But you knew full well at the time what you were doing was illegal and morally very very wrong.”
Police failures and continuing investigations
Allegations of child abuse against Graham were brought to the attention of the police as early as 1997 and then again in 2003, but these were not investigated or pursued at the time. During the sentencing hearing, the Judge acknowledged the harmful effects of this inaction, stating:
“Failures by a number of police forces to act on reports by a number of victims led to this case not being investigated until 2012, and this undoubtedly caused additional trauma to those who suffered at your hands.”
It was noted, however, that praise had been directed towards the efforts of the Military Police investigating team that had brought Graham to justice, led by Flight Sgt Parkinson.
Since Graham’s sentencing, the RAF have stated that there are “a number” of ongoing investigations into allegations of historic abuse and MP Tessa Munt has called for the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse to be expanded to include the Armed Forces.