In the mid-1970s, Jaden was enrolled at a primary school in suburban Perth. The school’s teaching methods were seen as progressive and often involved outside activities and excursions.
‘There were a lot of games and activities and it seemed like fun, and an alternative to struggling’, Jaden said. ‘But there was a lot of bastardry and bullying.’
Jaden’s teacher, John Doe, was very unstable. ‘He was a hard man who was aggressive, and it could change just like that. He tried to be everyone’s best friend, but he could snap. Physical violence was common. There was a lot of conditioning – inappropriate conversations and subject matter. I look at it now and see it’s so obviously being groomed ... He closed the door once and made me masturbate his penis in the classroom.’
Doe initiated conversations with students in the classroom about sex and often discussed details of sexual practices between him and his partner, Greg Brown. Jaden later found out that Brown was an ex-student of Doe’s.
That year, a group of 20 boys went with Doe and Brown to a beachside camping ground for the weekend. During the camp, Doe arranged for boys to re-enact scenes from ‘Lord of the Flies’. This involved them running through the bush at night and hunting each other down. ‘It was done as a game’, Jaden said. ‘But it was more sinister than that.’
That night, Jaden was raped by both men.
Soon after the camp, Jaden disclosed the rape to two guidance counsellors. The two women dismissed what he told them. ‘They got cross with me and said if I said these things my parents wouldn’t love me anymore’, Jaden said. ‘They did nothing about it. It wasn’t even raised. I don’t see how it’s possible that someone can say that and it’s not even questioned.’
Thereafter, Jaden refused to go to school. He would travel to the city each day and pass the time by himself. His parents eventually moved him to another school which he attended without incident until leaving in his early teens.
Jaden told the Commissioner that he felt ‘extremely suicidal’ after the abuse and he continued to have flashbacks to the present day. ‘It’s never gone away.’
In his early twenties, Jaden returned from an overseas holiday to see newspaper reports about Doe being honoured with a teaching award. He told his mother about being abused by the man and she encouraged him to make a report to Western Australia police. After an initial report however, life events prevented Jaden following the matter through.
In 2012 he made a formal complaint to the education department, and described their response and interview process as poor. ‘I went in and there were two burly guys who were ex-policemen and I didn’t want to talk about graphic stuff, and they persevered and wanted to know which hand was used, was he flaccid or was he erect, this sort of thing. … I look back and think, these guys are looking for a cover-up. They’re gaining information. And they did the same thing to my mother. My mother went in and complained, and they put her through the mill.’
Over the years, Jaden received conflicting messages about whether Doe had gone to jail. The education department told him the teacher had been acquitted, while police indicated that he’d been jailed.
Jaden has recently made a new statement to police and at the time of coming to the Royal Commission, investigations are continuing.
Although Jaden has seen various counsellors over the years, he’s never been able to discuss details of the abuse. For a long time he felt bad that the two men masturbating him had caused a physical response. ‘I was disgusted and revolted that my body had responded to stimulation and oral stimulation and obviously reacted beyond my control. I’m a heterosexual man, but at the time you’re confused because you’re a little boy and you’re having orgasms because someone’s stimulating you, and that to me was very confusing.’
Despite leaving school early, Jaden later graduated from university. He’s done well and has a supportive, ‘lovely’ wife and four-year-old child. ‘I think I’m quite strong. I don’t drink. I’ve never done the drug thing. I always tried to better myself.’ He was conscious of strong feelings of concern when his child recently started school. ‘I try not to be a hover parent, but I always have one eye on her.’
Jaden said telling his story to the Royal Commission was helpful. ‘I think having this Commission is a huge relief for people like me to be able to talk about it. I attended a court and it was obvious it was going to be a huge attack on everyone. The fact that you can come here and not be attacked by someone’s defence lawyer. To go through what I went through and have accusations. This is a statement I’ve had for over 20-something years. You wouldn’t maintain this as a hobby. People just don’t do that.’