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Brad Cole's story

Brad was the youngest of a large family, living in South Australia. He attended an Anglican boys’ school from Grade 5 until Grade 12, just like his older brothers. He was a sporty child and loved being noticed in class.

When he was 10, in the early 1970s, he came into contact with a ‘travelling’ teacher, Mr Layton. Layton was ‘incredibly charming’ and they formed a friendship instantly. Brad recalls feeling ‘special’ when he was around Layton because Layton ‘was both a mentor and a friend’. Layton told him he had ‘special boys in every state’ and he remembers wanting to be one of them.

Brad recalls being collected by Layton before school and taken to breakfast on numerous occasions. Layton also took him to a funfair to play space invaders on Saturdays. Brad said while they were in Layton’s car, Layton would ask him to remove his shorts and then he ‘fumbled and played’ with his genitals. A few times, Layton parked the car and asked Brad to touch his erection.

‘I remember him tutoring me on techniques for masturbation. I was particularly terrified by these encounters and would break it off by insisting he get me an ice cream or something. He was very irritable as he had not come – I now presume – and berated me for not understanding our special relationship.

‘He liked to stroke my blond hair, which he remarked on frequently, and kissed my neck and ears. He also massaged my torso as a kind of foreplay.’

Layton would constantly talk about his other ‘special students’. One day after school, Brad was introduced to an ex-student of Layton’s from another school and they played together in the park. He remembers seeing a ‘pained expression’ in the boy’s eyes, which haunts him to this day.

A couple of months after the abuse occurred, Layton told Brad he wanted to take him on a holiday to Sydney. He said he and Brad would be sharing a bed on the trip and that they would be naked. That afternoon, Layton followed Brad to his house to ask Brad’s parents for permission to take him on the trip. His parents said no and Brad was disappointed.

Brad’s mother saw that Layton followed her son home and became concerned. His parents went to the school to complain about Layton and he left the school a couple of days later. Brad was never approached by anyone at school and he didn’t see the school’s counsellor. He said that no one told him about what happened nor was he questioned about what happened between him and Layton. He never saw Layton again.

After Layton left, Brad grew into a ‘rebellious’ student. He said he became disruptive and almost got expelled a number of times. At the age of 14, he picked up smoking and experimented with drugs. He also became more aware of his sexuality as he realised what Layton had done to him.

‘I had more sex between the ages of 13 to 18 than I did for the rest of my life. It was a conquering sexuality, I think that’s relevant. I felt that I myself had been conquered.’

He went through his adolescence without telling anyone what happened to him. He has experienced depression and often lacks intimacy in relationships. He described himself as a ‘workaholic’ and he knows he doesn’t look after his own health. He also refuses to attend school reunions as he ‘can’t go anywhere near the school’. He has never sought psychological assistance.

When he was in his 20s, Brad disclosed details of the abuse he experienced to a friend. He said that being ‘open’ about what happened was satisfying. He has never felt personal shame for the abuse he endured. He decided to tell his mother after his father passed away in the late 1990s.

In recent years, he has been trying to find out more about about Layton but has been unable to locate him or identify his real name. He decided to write a letter to his school about his experiences, in the hope of receiving information but was dissatisfied with the response and ‘dismissed’ their suggestions. He found that their offer of counselling and contact with a law firm to be ‘inadequate’.

In the early 2000s, Brad attempted to report his abuse to the police. He said he found the whole process ‘discouraging’ and decided against proceeding with the case. Since coming to the Royal Commission, he intends to prepare a police report. He said it was extremely important to him to find out if Layton is still alive and what the school records show about him.

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