Grant blames the ‘elitist, authoritarian, dictatorial’ culture of the private high school he attended in the 1980s for helping to perpetuate the actions of a paedophile staff member, Ross Tucker.
The principal at that time, Graham McKern, was unapproachable. ‘If you could ever get him out of his grave and in front of a shrink, to say he was either an extreme narcissist or, I’d say … a sociopath – like any good CEO is nowadays … You look at his actions. If you said anything about the school that wasn’t positive, the way he handled it is as if that was a personal attack on him. He was the school and vice versa.’
As Grant recalls in an impact statement he provided the Commission, he was groomed. ‘Compounding on the effects of this authoritarian environment, that frowned upon questioning authority and demanded obedience to staff, was Tucker’s ability to pervert this trust. This was to such a level that he was seen as at least a trusted friend and person one could confide in, and held a father figure reputation in the school and/or boarding house environment.’
Before the abuse Grant’s grades were good. However, after being abused a number of times by Tucker in his senior years, his grades plummeted and he left school with an ‘abysmal’ score.
The abuse changed Grant’s personality from ‘open’ to ‘one of keeping a low profile and avoiding attention’. He blamed himself for allowing the abuse to occur. He questioned his sexuality. He even started to question whether or not what happened was abuse.
Grant wrote that he became ‘withdrawn’ and encountered ‘difficulties relating, trusting and communicating’ with others. This affected his work life and career – something that was stalled due to his poor school grades. His ‘insecurities’ and ‘self-doubt’ also affected his relationship with his spouse and children. ‘Fears of somehow being a paedophile with my own kids, leading to pulling back in everyday activities and having difficulties relating and communicating with my children, that has seen my relationship with them affected.’
He even stated that his communication is so hampered he had difficulty ‘putting pen to paper at all’ when writing about the impacts on his life.
An investigation began into other allegations against Tucker. Grant was angry the school didn’t make efforts to get in touch with all the students who might have come into contact with Tucker during the years he worked there. Grant used to receive emails from the school so he knew they were able to notify the old boys when it came to publicising events and asking for donations.
The first time Grant disclosed the abuse was to the Royal Commission. Since then he has spoken about it with his brother who attended the same school. He’s engaged a lawyer to initiate a civil claim and has undergone mediation. His motivation was not money – he received a modest sum, much of which was claimed by his lawyers – but to get a message across to help effect change. ‘School is a business nowadays. All they understand is what hits them in the pocket … You don’t walk away with anything much … But at least it’s a symbolic kick, you might say. Hopefully they … take it on board.’
Grant was assured by the school that they have implemented a number of child safety measures, which ‘must have cost an arm and a leg’. He wondered what’s happening in the public school system.
Despite the abuse and other obstacles that have occurred in Grant’s life, he has been successful.
‘I … kind of joke a bit … If you want to, kind of, sit there and dwell on it you’re buggered. You’ve got to go “Okay”, excuse my French, but “Shit happens. Think about it. Get over it. It’s impacted”.’