Duncan was almost 60 years old before the bad memories resurfaced and he realised that he had been abused as a child. He told the Commissioner:
‘I don’t think it ever occurred to me, and then I met my wife and got married, and been married 40 years this year and got two lovely girls with their own families, and it never occurred to me.’
Then in the 2010s he was involved in a serious car accident and sought psychological help to deal with the ongoing trauma. He said the psychologist ‘unlocked the box’.
‘And I was just looking over the pool fence to the kids playing in the pool and then it just flashed back with Tim Rutherford, and then the more I thought about it the more it came back and then it started involving other people.’
Eventually Duncan managed to piece together the details of the abuse he had suffered during his time as a member of the Church of England Boys Society (CEBS).
Throughout his teenage years, Duncan was abused by Tim Rutherford and four other men who were all leaders in CEBS. Each perpetrator abused him separately, but Duncan believes that some of the men were aware of what the others were doing and would play ‘jealousy games’, competing with each other to see how close they could get to Duncan and other boys.
Looking back, Duncan is sure that some of the adults must have known about the abuse and wanted to speak out, but ‘probably didn’t know the way to do it, where to bring it up. I mean, you can’t go much higher than the bloke who’s actually running the show’.
The abuse continued until Duncan was about 18. From then on, he managed to block it out by focusing on his good memories of CEBS. He enjoyed a ‘terribly good life’ until the car accident triggered his flashbacks. After that he started experiencing anxiety and depression.
Eventually Duncan made an official complaint to the Anglican Church and entered into a mediation process. He said that the Church representatives were initially hostile and didn’t believe him, but after some negotiation they changed their position.
‘Only because my wife was there at the time and I think the statement she made was “I want my husband back”. That was the big thing that turned it around, that she had been affected, and still is, by what has happened to me.’
Duncan said he received an apology and, after the lawyer’s fees were taken out, a payment of about $38,000.
He is now on medication for his depression and has a great relationship with his GP, who he describes as ‘a very good mate that I can talk to about it’.
Duncan told the Commissioner that he has ‘moved on’ and has no plans to report his abusers to police.
‘I just want the story to get out there. I’m still suffering from it, but with my wife and my friends I think we can work on it … The thing that probably annoys me the most is that I ran sports clubs for nearly 20 years, and I had the respect of those kids and young adults and their parents to the utmost degree, and I know I did. And I just can’t see how someone can abuse that trust. The complete trust that these young kids have in you. And that’s what hurts me the most, that people can do that. And then I’ve realised it’s happened to me.’