"I was the happiest kid in the world, and then I wasn't": The life and death of Andy MacQueen

The death of a celebrated Adelaide musician last year has revealed the cascading tragedy caused by one of the state’s most notorious pedophiles.

In part one of our special report, Andy MacQueen’s family tell the heartbreaking story of his abuse and the terrible consequences it had for his life and for those who loved him.

Andy MacQueen was just 11 years old when he was first sexually abused by Robert Brandenburg.

The Year 7 primary school student was happy and excited to be on camp at Victoria’s Grampians, alongside mates from the Church of England Boys Society (CEBS).

That was, until Brandenburg, the CEBS leader he had known and trusted for five years, entered the tent.

He sexually assaulted another terrified boy within, then turned to Andy and put his hand deep inside his sleeping bag.

“What are you doing? What are you doing?” cried Andy.

The shocked boy tried to push the man away but was overpowered, and Brandenburg’s assault continued.

The attacks would continue, and escalate horrifically, for at least three more years.

InDaily can only reveal what happened inside that tent during that first crime against Andy MacQueen, because he finally told his 88-year-old father in May, 2018.

But even then, on that quiet Thursday walk during Andy’s mental breakdown, he omitted painful details.

“Andy said: ‘You’re too old for this, old boy,” David MacQueen said.

“He said: ‘I was the happiest kid in the world. And then I wasn’t’.”

His son took his life four days later. He was 53.

The four decades since that first assault had been a living hell, a constant struggle, for Andy MacQueen, and his family.

This is a story about the corrosive, lifelong impact of child sexual abuse, festering secrets, and trust betrayed.

It is also about how Anglican Church officials protected and enabled a serial pedophile in their ranks and who - finally, reluctantly - admitted his monstrous acts only after he was exposed and committed suicide before facing justice.

Brandenburg, 47, took his life in May 1999, on the day he was due to appear in court on more than 100 child sexual abuse charges.

Andy didn’t reveal he was a victim until Brandenburg was dead.

“We didn’t realise,” his father said.
“It went on for years. We had no idea.”

Police estimate Brandenburg abused a minimum of  30 boys, while others estimate up to 200 during his 37 years leading CEBS, including as National Commissioner.

Brandenburg destroyed lives, and Andy MacQueen’s was one.


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