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Beau Christopher's story

Beau grew up in a small country town, and his home life was turbulent. His violent, alcoholic father died in the early 1980s, when he was 11.

The vice principal at Beau’s government school, George Carter, befriended him after his father died. Carter ‘took a special interest in me … After school hours … he’d call me into his office and, it started out quite innocent, like, “How are you going with your schoolwork? How are you going with your mates? And how are you coping with the loss of your father”’.

After a couple of these meetings, Carter asked Beau if he wanted to go to his house on the weekend, ‘to do water sports’. Beau knew that other pupils had done that, ‘but they always went in groups’.

The first time Beau went Carter’s house, ‘everything was fine and it was just tea, chatting. He had a home computer … I just played with that, had tea, and my mother came and picked me up’. His mother was pleased for him to have a male influence in his life.

After a few visits, Carter began to get a bit ‘more comfortable with me and started telling jokes, play fighting, wrestling, that type of thing, which, when I think back … it was a little uncomfortable, but I just thought it was friendliness’.

Carter then asked Beau if he wanted to stay overnight at his place. Beau thought someone else was going too ‘but it ended up just me and him’.

During the evening Carter gave Beau a Playboy magazine and said, ‘See what you think of that’. As a 13-year-old boy, Beau ‘didn’t really know what to think. Obviously, I wasn’t naive. I had seen those books before. [But] …’

After tea, Carter decided to turn his bathroom into an improvised sauna, by using heaters and turning the shower on to make steam. He told Beau to get undressed. They both sat on the carpet, with their backs against the bathroom wall.

‘I was uncomfortable being naked. I’d never been naked in front of anyone … And then the conversation escalated to talking about sex, puberty … masturbation and erections, so it made it really uncomfortable … He started masturbating himself … His aim was for me to try and get aroused, which didn’t happen … I was scared stiff. I had my head down … He could tell I was stressed, or distressed, but he never pushed any further than that.’

The same thing happened a few weeks later, but ‘his manner was more forceful this time and … I was extremely uncomfortable again, but I couldn’t escape … He started the same kinds of conversation about sex and puberty and masturbation, and that’s when he touched me and started masturbating me … Again, he was masturbating himself at the same time’.

Later, when Beau was dressed, Carter said to him, ‘I’m sorry mate, I can trust you, that it won’t go any further than this’.

It took Beau nearly a week to tell his mother. ‘I didn’t know how to, but was pleased I did.’ His mother immediately made an appointment with the Department of Education. ‘I can’t remember details. It was mainly a conversation between them and my mum … I do know he was removed from the school straight away. I never had to see him again at school.’

Beau’s aunt was very angry with that had happened, and mentioned it to a friend, who was a police officer. Beau’s mother was distressed at the prospect of Beau having to testify in court, but Carter was charged.

‘I had to go into the trial with the perpetrator [and] his defence lawyer, and I had to tell my story in front of him and I was cross-examined … yelled at, screamed at, shouted down, pointed finger, “You’re a liar”, etc, etc …’

Because Beau lived in a small town, rumour and innuendo were rife when neighbours saw him driven back and forth to the court each day by the police.

‘Basically I was bullied. I was teased. I was persecuted by other people in the community that I’d made these accusations against the good teacher. I was called a poofter by the other kids in the township, and … the shame was put on me. And especially at the end of the trial, because he was acquitted.’

Carter was charged again many years later, after another of his victims came forward. He was found in possession of child pornography and ‘he had escalated to full-on intercourse with kids’.

Nearly three decades after Carter had been acquitted of the offences against Beau ‘the police contacted me, wanted to know what had happened to me 30 years ago, as they had 10 more victims’.

Finally, after accusations that went as far back as the early 1970s, Carter was convicted and sent to jail in the mid-2010s. This was 40 years after he’d first been charged for sexual offences, in the early 1970s. After being acquitted at that time, and again over his offences against Beau, he had continued to work with children and abuse them.

At the time of Beau’s session with the Royal Commission, Carter was in jail for an offence committed in the late 1970s and had charges pending for the abuse of a number of children during the 1990s and 2000s.

‘In my opinion, the Education Department would have known he has been charged on these kinds of assaults … But he was left in the school system.’

Beau has had a successful adult life. ‘I could have followed that path … of doing all the wrong things, but I wasn’t going to be a victim. I wasn’t going to end up as a druggie or an alcoholic … I just wanted to change my whole life around and obviously, [I] met my wife, have a great, stable marriage, kids … [I purchased] a business … I’m okay. I have a good life.’

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