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Clancy Robert's story

Clancy grew up in western Sydney, and in the 1960s attended his local state high school. One of the teachers there, Mal Ingram, was also involved in Christian camps in a volunteer capacity. When Clancy was 12 years old he went on one of these camps with his friend George.

‘That was all organised by that teacher. I believe that was probably his way of sort of winning the favour of my parents.’

The following year Ingram invited the two boys to a country house which was owned by another teacher from the school. Clancy agreed to go, assuming that George would also be there. However when Ingram picked Clancy up he was with three other teenage boys, who Clancy did not know, and said that George was unable to attend.

Over the weekend Ingram encouraged the boys to play a game in which they stripped naked, intimidating Clancy into participating even though he didn’t want to.

Ingram also walked in while Clancy was naked for his bath, and would not leave immediately despite Clancy wanting him to do so.

‘It was quite odd ... Although there was no touching, it was quite disturbing for me to have somebody carrying on like that. It was just too much for me.’

Clancy did not tell his parents about what Ingram had done because his home life was difficult. He feels that his relationship with his father may have in some way contributed to him being abused.

‘My father was in the Second World War, and was one not to speak about it ... He hit the bottle, and he was quite abusive. He was not a very good father, I hate to say. That sort of helped precipitate, I think, the sexual abuse of me by that teacher. Because I was a very lost soul ... In need of some sort of support.

‘The thing that’s hit the most probably was the fact that I launched out and trusted this man to take us away for a weekend. Because I’d love any opportunity to get out of home. To have more abuse happen then was just the straw that broke the camel’s back for me at that point in my life ... I can’t actually put it in words. But I know I just completely shut down from that point on. I became very introverted and quite lost there.’

The impacts of the abuse for Clancy have included alcoholism, difficulty with relationships, and depression, and how these have in turn affected his child.

‘I don’t think people probably realise how those repercussions keep going. So that one small act that someone does to someone can just have, for decades and generations, effects on people ... Those sexual crimes are so heinous because of the fact that the damage just keeps going on and on.’

For many years Clancy ‘buried’ the abuse. However around five years ago he was bullied at work, and this triggered memories of being intimidated by Ingram at the country house. ‘I was back there as a child for a few days, and it wasn’t a very pleasant place to be.’ Distressed, he went to his GP and then to a counsellor.

‘The first lot of counselling I found completely unproductive, but I eventually found a psychologist who I clicked with and that was really productive ... I was trying to put everything in stock in my life, and I wasn’t happy with the way things had been tracking, and just thought I’ve got to sort all this stuff out, because I’m not going to go to the grave with this stuff unsorted, that needed to be put to bed and done with.

‘So I’ve been on a bit of a mission with it. Which has been pretty challenging because my partner at the moment has not been very supportive ... That’s sort of created its own difficulties.’

Although Ingram was only in his 20s at the time of the abuse, Clancy was unsure if he would still be alive. ‘I sort of thought oh I’ve left my run too late here, he’s probably popped his clogs. But no, he hadn’t.’

Clancy reported the matter to police. ‘I was told due to a statute of limitations that there was nothing they could do ... They did take a report down. I felt that as soon as I mentioned the level of abuse, because it didn’t actually involve any, sort of – you know, on the scale of things it wasn’t on the extreme end – that they just switch off and sort of go “well there’s not a lot we can do about it”.’

The police did say they would pass the information on to their colleagues working in the area where the offences occurred. ‘I still wasn’t happy with the outcome so, using the internet, I tracked down one of my old friends from high school.’ This friend was George, who said that he had found Ingram ‘creepy’ and as a teenager had felt uncomfortable being alone with him in his car.

George acted as a ‘go-between’ for Clancy to make contact with Ingram via email, and Ingram replied. ‘I actually have an email from the teacher acknowledging that his story and my story don’t coalesce ... [but] he’s acknowledged he was there ... I don’t agree with his storyline.’

At this point Clancy has not taken any further criminal or civil action. He knows that Ingram went on to work in the education sector for decades, and has recently made claims online that he is now working with underprivileged children overseas.

Clancy told the Commissioner that his private session was part of his ‘healing’, as ‘what happened to me alienated me from authority, so this is sort of like a return to me, back to feeling I’m part of society again. So that’s really good for me, that this whole Royal Commission has been initiated. It’s a really wonderful healing process I think, for a hell of a lot of people across Australia’.

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