Griffin was in his final year at a prestigious Anglican grammar school in the late 2000s when he went to the former first aid officer’s house to collect his younger brother.
‘I picked up my brother from this person’s house and I noticed he was putting his belt back on, so I sort of put two and two together and worked out what was going on.’
The first aid officer’s name was Davis, and he also ran the St John Cadet program at the school. Now in his 30s and an ‘old boy’ himself, Davis had been involved in the school his whole adult life.
From the age of 13 Griffin often had to receive first aid. Davis would instruct him to remove his underpants and explain that the treatment would be more effective if Griffin had an erection. He would then proceed to touch him inappropriately and masturbate him. This continued for a number of years.
‘A lot of how he’s been able to do this was all under like a medical sort of guise. So he would take kids away during class time and say “Yes, we’re gonna do these stretches” … So like kids would disappear during class time with him for half an hour to an hour to do stretches.’
Griffin had held a casual after-school job and worked closely with one of his friends. ‘He knew Davis was close to my family and that sort of stuff, so he just said “Be careful”. That was too late by then, I guess. Little did he know what was already in the works.’
That same year Griffin and his peers attended a school camp which was also attended by Davis, who plied the boys with alcohol. Upon returning home, a friend told Griffin that Davis had sexually abused him and asked if he’d also been abused. Griffin said no. In spite of this response, his friend went to the principal and Davis was fired. However, he still remained involved with the school.
The following year, when Griffin picked up his brother from Davis’s house, he knew he had to say something. ‘I spoke to one teacher and he didn’t even go and tell the headmaster, we just went to the police straight away.’ Davis was charged with a number of offences and eventually sentenced to five years in prison.
‘I think there was eight different people that … he was convicted for abusing. I think 11 people came forward but there is more out there that just wouldn’t.
‘It’s just the surface. He would have touched so many kids, like so many of their lives.’
Since this occurred during Griffin’s final year of school and his first year of university, his education suffered. ‘It probably cost me a year of uni. The whole year it’s also came to light, it’s a pretty long process. It’s hard to really ignore it. Failed a few subjects.’
Griffin’s parents were horrified by what had happened to their sons after the police informed them of Davis’s actions. ‘The school actually came to an agreement with my parents and they wrote off all these school fees, which is probably about $120,000.’ However, after realising that his parents were not asked to sign anything, Griffin ‘went back for round two’ and was awarded an ex gratia payment of $125,000.
‘On the whole the response from the school was pretty ordinary. And the Board, they were just sort of hiding behind lawyers. I mean, they should have just said “We stuffed up”. I mightn’t have gone after them again if they’d said that to me in the first place.’
Now in his 20s, Griffin is employed by a large firm but feels uneasy knowing that some of partners are members of the school board and may have knowledge of his history. Griffin receives counselling, has been prescribed antidepressants for anxiety and has difficulty trusting people. He told the Commissioner that he believes Davis has since been released because his profile popped up on Facebook.
The school has never formally apologised to Griffin and his brothers, and never followed up afterwards to ensure their wellbeing. Since Davis’s arrest two other teachers have been charged with possessing child pornography and at least one has been convicted.
Griffin blames the school for putting its reputation above the safety of students, and believes the abuse could have easily been prevented by thorough screening of potential staff.
‘I think just the reaction and the whole way it was handled by the school was pretty terrible. And it shouldn’t have happened, there should have been controls in place to stop that. It was pretty preventable, I think … I just think a lot of it is the school’s culture and attitude to that. Just stuck in the past.
‘It’s really funny ‘cause they talk about sex education all the time but they don’t mention anything like this happening.’