In the 1980s, Ethan was in primary school when he started attending a youth group every Saturday at his Jewish school. At the group it was standard practice for the two men who supervised the kids to provide refreshments in the afternoon. Sometimes the kids would play a game just before the refreshments were served and one afternoon Ethan and his friend won the game.
Ethan recalled: ‘Guys kept on getting out and as they got out they got their chips or drink or whatever, and then there was myself and another guy that didn’t get out, so this particular leader, Paul Dorf, pulled us out and said, “Right, you guys are winning, come with me”.’
Dorf took the two boys to a secluded part of the school and then, under the guise of continuing the game, got them to strip naked and kiss his buttocks and penis. The abuse would have gone further but, as Ethan put it, ‘we ran out of time. It was the end of the youth period so we had to come back next week and continue the game. So we got dressed and went back to our group and just continued playing as if nothing had happened’.
The following Saturday morning Ethan told his father the whole story.
‘He was shocked, as he would be as a parent; I’m sure I would do the same. And he said, “You’re not going today”. And I was like, “But I want to, I want to see my friends” … I don’t remember whether I actually went that week or not. I think I did but nothing happened. My father said, “Just leave it to me”, which I did.’
Dorf disappeared from that position and there were no more incidents of abuse, but when Ethan was about 10, he ran into Dorf on the school grounds.
‘He was at the back of the hall, there was no one around. I sort of said to him, “Hey, you never gave me a prize”. So he gave me two bucks and said, “See ya”. Like hush money.’
Ethan barely spoke to anyone about the abuse. As he grew older he mentioned it to some female friends and to his wife but not in any detail. Then one day, out of the blue, the police phoned him up.
It turned out that Dorf had offended against several other boys who were now pressing charges. The police wanted Ethan to make a statement. Ethan was reluctant at first because he was concerned about the impact the publicity would have on his job, but in the end he agreed.
Dorf was ultimately convicted and sentenced to several years in jail. Ethan is doubtful that the sentence will have much effect. ‘It might prevent some offences happening now but when he comes out is it going to help? I don’t know. I don’t know when his last offence was, I don’t know when his first offence was … With these sorts of people it’s going to happen again, I don’t know if it’s in their DNA or inbuilt in them.’
Compared to other victims, Ethan believes he ‘got off lightly’. He said the main effect the abuse has had on his life is that it’s made him a more vigilant parent. ‘I don’t trust males as much, especially I’m now a father … I go to footy training, I go to every footy match. It can happen anywhere, any time I can’t be at school. In a way I’m overprotective of my kids.’