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Huon's story

Huon first met Mr Wright in the early 1990s, when he was in Year 8 at a Victorian state high school. They bonded over a mutual love of sport, and Huon soon thought of him as his ‘favourite teacher’.

Wright took an interest in Huon’s grades, and acted as a kind of mentor. He groomed Huon’s family, who invited him to events and allowed him to take Huon to football matches on the weekend. Wright would buy him gifts, including an entire sporting outfit one birthday.

By Year 9, Huon was staying over with Wright, his partner and stepson Michael. Wright would sleep in the same room as the boys, and told Huon that he hated having to be intimate with his partner.

During these sleepovers Huon witnessed Wright kissing, masturbating and performing oral sex on Michael. ‘I guess I thought “Ah, that’s a bit strange”. But I never said anything, and they kind of laughed it off, like, “We do this all the time”. I guess I started feeling comfortable around it, sort of thing, normalised it, and kept it quiet. I never said anything.’

As Huon became used to seeing this behaviour, Wright began sexually abusing him too. Sometimes he would wake up to Wright masturbating him while Michael was in the room. Wright gave Huon a sexually suggestive nickname, and would at times even use this name at the school.

By the time Huon was in Year 10, Wright had established a weekly routine with the boys. This entailed him supplying alcohol to them, going out driving, then heading back to the house where he would sexually abuse them.

Huon went on numerous holidays with Wright and the teacher sexually assaulted him almost constantly, often in situations where there was a chance they could be caught. He continued to buy Huon numerous gifts and gave him money, always asking what he would get in return for these favours.

Wright first initiated anal sex with Huon when he was 15, instructing Huon to penetrate him. Around this time, he said that he could go to jail for the things he had been doing to Huon. This surprised Huon, as until then he had thought of these activities as normal.

Wright became increasingly possessive of Huon, and would became angry if Huon spent time with friends. He even stopped him taking a girl to the local debutante ball, saying ‘No, you're supposed to be in a relationship with me'. Huon learned that he could placate Wright whenever he was upset by masturbating him.

When Huon was 16 he realised what Wright was doing was ‘totally wrong’ and tried to avoid the teacher, who would ring him and tell him how selfish he was. Eventually, he stopped calling.

Huon became aware that Wright had a new partner and Wright indicated that he was also sexually abusing this woman’s sons. He believes Wright was eventually removed from the school because of sexual misconduct with a student and is no longer a teacher.

When Huon was in his early 30s he disclosed the abuse for the first time.

‘I basically put it to the side, pretended it didn’t happen, for 20 years. And then, I was like a dormant volcano, and then weekends I would drink and I would bring it up. And that’s when I first told my wife. And it just escalated from there.’

Some days his depression and anxiety were so bad that he could not get to work and he experienced problems with sexual intimacy and self-esteem. His wife helped him find specialist support with a sexual assault service, including counselling.

After 12 months of therapy, ‘I had the strength to go to the police’, and provide a formal statement. The police contacted Michael, as he had spoken to them briefly about the abuse some years earlier, and he gave a statement. ‘The police said this was a very strong case, the strongest case they had seen in years, they weren’t promising an outcome, but they were confident.’

At this stage, Huon and Michael had never spoken to each other about what Wright had done to them.

Wright was charged with numerous offences against them both and these were heard together. In court the defence suggested that they had colluded to make false allegations against Wright, ‘but I didn’t have any contact with Michael until after the court case’.

Huon gave evidence and was cross-examined, and Michael did too. There were also numerous other witnesses including family members. ‘It kind of felt like I was on trial. It was horrible.’

The jury found Wright not guilty on all charges.

‘To get that result was unbelievable. My faith in the justice system at the moment – I don’t have any, really. I can’t believe he can be out there re-offending now. It’s just not fair.’

Despite the outcome, Huon was impressed by the way the police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) handled the case, and the way they dealt with him personally. ‘Just the way they handled it, and their sensitivity and communication, all that sort of stuff. It all made the process smooth.’ The ODPP’s solicitor was ‘fantastic ... very, very positive’.

Huon has not yet reported the abuse to the school, or made a civil claim, and is hesitant to do so after how the criminal matter ended. He was awarded a small amount of victims of crime compensation, which he used to take his family on holiday after the court case, and on yoga classes ‘to help with healing’.

‘Each step, from reporting, to counselling, to the trial, it’s kind of like peeling a layer off. Even today, the Royal Commission, it’s kind of another chapter closing I suppose. Getting on, getting on with life.’

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