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Jakob's story

Jakob grew up in regional New South Wales. He attended an Anglican boys’ boarding school in the late 1960s. He came to the Royal Commission to talk of the abuse that occurred to other students of the school and how it was covered up by teachers and the principal. He also discussed an inappropriate relationship he had with one of his teachers during that time.

At school, Jakob grew close to one of his teachers, Caleb Forester. Along with other boys, he and Forester would spend time together at night, often drinking alcohol and smoking. Jakob said they would stay up until one o’clock in the morning. Forester would talk about sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. This progressed to private discussions in Forester’s room. With the benefit of hindsight, Jakob believes this was Forester’s way of grooming him and gaining his trust.

When Jakob was 18, a 12-year-old boy named Perry approached him and told him that he was being abused by Oliver Dean, a teacher at the school. Jakob was unsure how to proceed with this so he approached his friend, Ross Callahan, and asked him about any rumours he had heard. Dean was Ross’s teacher and sports coach. Ross disclosed that Dean had also abused him. He told Jakob that he was abused several times at Dean’s home and on his boat.

There weren’t many teachers that Jakob trusted, but he trusted Mr Forester. He told Forester about the abuse the next day and was told that the matter would be handled. Jakob believed that Forester would talk to the principal and it would be dealt with properly. He walked away from the conversation feeling satisfied, but was later approached by Dean.

‘[Dean] approached me aggressively and accused me of telling lies. He said that his wife would walk naked down the main street of [town] proclaiming his innocence. A couple of boys from the [sports team] threatened to beat me up for telling lies about their coach.’

It became clear to Jakob that Forester hadn’t gone to the police or the principal. He simply told Dean about their conversation, which left Jakob feeling betrayed. He was also scared because Dean was a popular teacher and his students started threatening Jakob. Nothing more was done about the situation and Dean continued to teach at the school.

Jakob graduated from the school in the early 1970s. Although he went to work interstate, he kept in regular contact with Perry and Forester. In a letter, Perry told Jakob that the principal and Dean ‘smiled’ at him more since Jakob had left. Forester told Jakob that he had severed ties with Dean and nothing more could be done.

Over the years, Jakob learnt that Dean continued to abuse Perry until Dean left the school in the early 1970s. Jakob had other students contact him about their experiences with abuse at the school. He said he learnt that two other teachers had also abused four different students, and Jakob suspects many more were abused. What he found most frustrating was that, despite others disclosing the abuse to him, no one wanted to bring the school to justice.

‘It’s everyone’s alma mater, they don’t want to soil the reputation of something they’ve proudly been able to [relate to] for 30, 40 years. It’s such an issue for them.’

In the mid-1990s, Jakob reported the men who abused him and his school friends to the Wood Royal Commission. He then notified the police. He was disappointed when some of his friends refused to press charges. He was also upset that one of the victims said that he had ‘no recollection’ of any abuse occurring.

Jakob has always had difficulty trusting authority figures. However, in recent years he contacted his old school about the previous abuse. He and two other victims were invited to the school to meet with the current principal and discuss the issue. In the meeting, the principal was 'compassionate’ towards the former students and talked of current policies that the school had in place to prevent similar abuse occurring today. Jakob suggested publishing an article or information in the school magazine about child sexual abuse and what students could do if they encounter it. The principal refused and became defensive. Jakob now believes that the principal was really only interested in protecting the reputation of the school.

‘I did exactly the right thing. When I left that place, I walked away from society. You can have it – authority, society, the lot, you’re all a bunch of liars.’

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