We fell for the ‘perfect guy’ – with a frightening streak
Conan Visser and Instagram model Tammy Hembrow hold up a young girl and smile for the camera, both wearing shirts that spruik his anti-bullying children's charity.
Champion boxer Jeff Horn stands beside him in another photograph.
They are all there; athletes, reality stars, models - ambassadors for an anti-bullying charity run by a man who this week admitted to choking and slapping a former girlfriend as he screamed and swore at her.
And now, a string of women are accusing the charity founder of bad behaviour - saying he verbally abused and terrified them, all while posting feel good, self-help messages on his organisation's Instagram account.
Through his charity, I Can I Will, Visser visits schools and uses donations to grant wishes to special needs children. He records positive messages for his social media accounts and regularly posts anti-bullying quotes.
But at least five women have claimed that Visser threatened and harassed them.
"The only disability in life is a bad attitude," he posted earlier this year.
But in a series of 96 text messages - most of them abusive - to one girl he dated, Visser wrote: "I f...ing hate you, hate you, hate you, thanks for being there, c… f… you."
Yesterday, Visser, 35, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm and common assault in relation to an attack on former girlfriend Samantha Cooper.
He admitted to choking and slapping her after barging uninvited into her home to accuse her of cheating.
"He just was everything that I suppose we all hope that someone might be," Ms Cooper said.
"Even given his title - he's the CEO or the founder of a children's anti-bullying charity and has this front of giving.
"They are qualities that I think the beautiful soft hearts in us really want to latch on to."
But within weeks, the caring, community-minded man Ms Cooper thought she'd met changed.
He became possessive, controlling and jealous.
"I couldn't do anything right and within two months, I just was flat out spelling my own name," Ms Cooper said.
"I just felt crazy. I just couldn't figure out what was going on and was just stuck in this consistent cycle of just wanting to be loved and wanting things to go back to where they were."
Marley Howlett, who dated Visser for several months before breaking it off in May, said he started off charming but quickly became emotionally abusive.
"And then it started to get physical," she said.
"I would say, `I'm not having this conversation with you' and I would go to walk away and he would grab me, grab my arms and shake me.
"And then one night he pinned me down. I was yelling and telling him to stop."
She said he kept harassing her after she broke up with him, calling her at odd hours and sending her death threats.
"You are a dog … you are a c… people know who you are … they will find you … snitches … get killed," the anti-bullying campaigner wrote.
"Your family … gone."
She went to the police and shortly after, the calls and texts stopped.
"I think he just moved on to the next woman really."
Another of Visser's ex-girlfriends, who asked not to be named, showed The Courier-Mail a string of nearly 100 text messages he sent her while she slept one night.
"It was really intense really quickly," she said.
"He's physically grabbed me to stop me from leaving on a number of occasions."
The woman said Visser woke her in the early hours of the morning "bellowing and screaming" her name at the front door.
She said she opened the door thinking he was in trouble, but he pushed past her shouting: "Where is he? Where is he?"
"He's opening doors, he's even looking in cupboards you'd put your cups in," she said.
"You couldn't even physically fit a person in there."
After making him leave, the woman discovered he'd sent an "obscene" number of text messages to her, including bizarre claims that she owed him money and that a "bikie" father relative would "call her" in the morning.
Another former girlfriend received the following texts:
You are dead
You ... you are ... being watched
You are dead
You are cheap ...
you have no worth
peace (sic) of shit
You... are ... going to sleep with anyone ... you are a slut
You are about to be killered (sic)
Visser's charity had an annual income of $200,000 during the 2017 reporting period and a staff of one.
After expenses and other liabilities, it finished the year with a debt of $18,000.
Annual information statements from the charity have not been filed since then.
Yesterday, after he was convicted and sentenced to community service for assaulting Ms Cooper, Visser posted a picture of himself in a suit on his Instagram, saying "every decision is made with risk v reward".
"Sorry to everyone and anyone," he wrote.
"What you experience and what you hear are two different things."
Visser did not respond to questions outside court.
Originally published as We fell for the 'perfect guy' - with a frightening streak