Thinking that the public schools in Western Sydney ‘weren’t the best’, Darrin’s parents decided to send him to a Catholic school run by the Patrician Brothers. Darrin transferred to the school in Year Four, and remembers that it was proud of its name and sporting achievements. He enjoyed himself, got good grades and, for the next five years, did not have any issues with either teachers or students.
In the late 1990s Darrin took an avid interest in computers, and began to frequent the computer rooms during lunchtime and after school. In a document provided to the Commission Darrin said that the computer teacher, Mr Harvey, had a ‘short fuse’ but was also ‘very approachable’. Feeling that he had a ‘strong bond’ with Mr Harvey, he was glad when the teacher began to show him how to fix computers, and felt ‘privileged’ when he would let him work in a private storeroom.
When Darrin was in Year 9, he was chosen to be a helper on a school camp organised by Mr Harvey and Brother Thomas. To cater for a high volume of students, different groups experienced a three day programme over a two week period. The helpers assisted with the day to day running of the camp, and at night shared a tent with Mr Harvey and Brother Thomas.
Darrin said that ‘the principal and the deputy would visit … and they knew that the Year 9 helpers going on the camp were staying in the same tent as the teachers … Looking back on that you think, “How could you see that and think that that was okay?”’
On the weekend, when the helpers were the only students on site, Darrin slept ‘within arm’s length’ of his friend Elliot and Mr Harvey. During the night, Harvey persisted until he managed to masturbate Darrin, and be masturbated in return.
Darrin wrote that ‘I eventually stopped resisting him because I felt pressured and he was my teacher. I did not want to cause a scene in front of all the other people in the tent so I tried to keep quiet. I didn't really know what to say or do. I was embarrassed and confused … I thought that if I gave in to him he would then leave me alone’.
The next morning, Elliot said something that made Darrin want to ‘die’. He had clearly seen or heard the sexual abuse. ‘I just tried to ignore what he said and change the conversation’, Darrin said.
Back at school, Darrin ‘blocked the incident’ and ‘tried to forget about it’. He continued to use the computer room and private storeroom, and would sometimes have coffee or pizza with Harvey and Brother Thomas after school. ‘We would talk about all sorts of things but nothing that made me feel uncomfortable’, Darrin wrote. ‘It felt as though I was hanging out with friends … I had to see Mr Harvey every day at school, and it was easier if we remained friends and if I didn't bring anything up about him touching me at camp’.
Harvey began standing behind Darrin in the storeroom, touching him on the shoulders or putting his hand inside his shirt. Feeling ‘uncomfortable’, Darrin would either ignore this or get up and do something else. Darrin wrote that, ‘I enjoyed most of the time I spent with Mr Harvey and once again, it was easier to just ignore the bits I didn't like. I didn't want my life and my school life to change so I didn't say anything’.
The day after seeing Harvey touch Darrin inappropriately, another teacher, Mr Malloy, said to Darrin, “If you ever need to talk, come and see me”. However, there was ‘no way’ Darrin would disclose. He said that both of his parents knew Harvey, ‘so it would’ve been a massive impact. There just would’ve been so many things to deal with that I didn’t even contemplate bringing it up with anyone’.
A few years after he’d left high school, Darrin learned that Harvey had resigned following a report by Mr Malloy that he’d inappropriately touched another student. Darrin understands that no charges were laid, and that the school ‘paid off the student to get rid of him’.
About five years ago, after Brother Thomas was arrested ‘out of the blue’ for child sexual abuse, Darrin said to himself, ‘I just have to make a statement to the police, and just deal with it, and just get rid of it’. He eventually found a supportive officer who worked with him to compile a detailed statement.
Darrin’s allegations were combined with a number of others and, following a very lengthy process, Harvey was convicted. Darrin has now decided to commence civil action.
He describes himself as ‘a very untrusting person’ who, for years, found it impossible to sleep in the same room as another person. He has had depression, thoughts of suicide and ‘almost became an alcoholic’. He has never seen a counsellor, but is planning to do so in the near future.
Now in his 30s, Darrin has a supportive partner and is starting his own business. He has been continuously employed in a job that he loves, and believes that hard work and staying busy are the things that keep him together.