‘It just blows me away how … whether it was 10 seconds or 30 seconds, I can’t really remember, but that had just stayed with me. For life … I’d rather not have it with me. And it gets me when I, sort of, least expect it. Just get angry.’
Gordon attended a Uniting Church high school in Western Australia in the 1990s. When he was about 14 years old he got a minor eye injury and went to the school’s medical centre. The usual nursing staff were not there. That day, Neil Rogers, who lived on the premises, was on duty.
Rogers inspected Gordon’s eye then told him to undo his belt. Gordon questioned why that was necessary and Rogers replied he needed to ‘check his glands’. Rogers then groped Gordon’s testicles.
That same day Gordon told his mother what had happened. The following day the headmaster, Mr Pritchard, questioned Gordon about it. Pritchard then said he would attend to the matter and that Gordon didn’t need to do anything further. He also told Gordon that Rogers was a registered nurse. However, to this day, Gordon has had doubt about that.
After that day, Gordon cannot recall ever seeing Rogers around the school again. There was no follow up from the headmaster and no one checked to see if Gordon was okay.
‘There were boys in my year who had suffered at the hands of a bloke called Jones and that was well known, even when I was a boy at [the school], and it had been uncovered. So, of any of the schools that should have been on top of this, [my school] should have been on top of this and understood what best practice should be.’
Most of Gordon’s memories of school are positive ones and he’s unsure of the impacts the abuse has had on his life. He’s had a successful professional career. He received counselling for depression, which he assumed was related to a difficult professional placement. However, he didn’t disclose the sexual abuse until the end of his therapy.
Gordon does have anxieties around the abuse.
‘It was in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be around kids because of this … It was like you always hear of people who are sexually abused become the abusers … I’ve told my family and I often wonder whether, you know, my sister worries about me around her kids and stuff like that.’
When Gordon was preparing to come to the Royal Commission he rang his mother to clarify what took place. ‘She actually can’t remember. And that’s an issue in itself and it makes me feel really upset.’
Now, over 20 years after the incident, Gordon feels an obligation to report it. He wants to ensure that Rogers is no longer close to children. Although it was difficult to find the contact details of the appropriate task force, Gordon has been in touch with the police, who he thought acted professionally. However, he hasn’t heard back from them as yet.
He has also recently visited the school and spoken at length with the current headmaster. The headmaster was ‘horrified’ to hear Gordon’s story but no apology was forthcoming from the school.
‘I compare my case to others who have suffered horrific incidents and … I want to make it clear that there have been times where I’ve thought … “I don’t have the right to report this because it was a small incident” … but it has affected me and I just think part of that issue is because there are people out there who do this to kids … and they get away with it. And what he did to me was, I think, cut off pretty quick because of the way I reacted. But I don’t know what he did to other boys.
‘I just don’t know whether it’s good for me or not’, Gordon told the Commissioner when he considered how much he should talk about his abuse. ‘I work for an organisation … it’s kind of macho. Do you want to be that guy who …? But then, I want to be that guy that might help someone as well.’