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Jamie John's story

Growing up in western Sydney in the 1970s, Jamie was often looked after by his older brother Greg. Their father had died when Jamie was very young and their mother had developed an illness soon afterwards. She was in and out of hospital and when she was home there was drinking and boyfriends. It was a dysfunctional environment, Jamie said.

One of the places Greg took Jamie was to the local athletics club. While Greg trained for an hour Jamie was looked after by one of the coaches there, Ray Johnson. Johnson took the opportunity to sexually abuse Jamie, in his car and in the toilets.

‘I have graphic memories from a very young age of someone playing with my genitals and putting his genitals in my mouth, and making me touch his genitals, while my brother was running laps around the field’, Jamie told the Commissioner.

Jamie didn’t tell anyone about the abuse. Partly that’s because he didn’t know that’s what it was.

‘I didn’t quite know what was happening. I somehow knew that I wasn’t supposed to talk about it … I think I felt like I was doing something wrong. I must have been old enough to be ashamed of what was happening’, he told the Commissioner.

As well, Johnson was a significant figure in Jamie’s life. ‘This guy was so respected in our household.’ He trained not only Greg, but also local football players. ‘All these other people that really looked up to this guy.’ Jamie didn’t think it was his place to ‘badmouth’ Johnson.

When Greg turned 18, he stopped going to training. That meant Johnson’s abuse of Jamie came to an end. Jamie was eight or nine by then, and had been abused by Johnson for about two years.

In his final years of primary school, Jamie was abused again. This time it was by a neighbour, an older boy whose family Jamie spent a lot of time with when his mother was in hospital. The abuse involved mutual masturbation and oral sex and again, Jamie didn’t really see himself as a victim.

‘That must have lasted till I reached high school and I sort of figured out that it wasn’t something people did, and it was something that was disgusting. But at that stage I didn’t focus the blame on him. I sort of thought it was just as much ‘us’ as him; it was just a disgusting thing that we all did – I didn’t really look at it like he had been manipulating the situation.’

He sees it differently now. ‘I still feel disgusted with myself for doing it but I don’t think it was my fault.’

At his state high school, Jamie attracted the particular attention of one of his teachers, Bevan Lannister. Lannister knew his family well, and knew the difficulties Jamie faced at home. By then Jamie was getting into trouble – he’d been charged by police for the first time when he was 12, for breaking into a house. He was starting to use drugs, and would turn up at school under the influence of marijuana.

‘Lannister must have picked up on this because he used that as weapon with which to manipulate me into becoming involved in a sexual relationship with him.

'So that was his scare tactics. That he knew that I was smoking pot and also after those encounters he’d give me 20 bucks to go and buy drugs. The threat was if I didn’t do it he would talk to the welfare and have me taken away from my family.'

‘It was like I was prostituting myself.’

Lannister would rub his penis on Jamie’s back during class. Outside class, there was masturbation and oral sex. On four occasions, there was anal sex. ‘That had a devastating effect on me in the end’, Jamie said. He had a girlfriend at the time: ‘I’d be trying to be with her but I’d have these disgusting thoughts of this man putting his penis in me. Yeah, it was something I really knew was wrong, that I had to stop.’

In Jamie’s last years of school his mother had a major breakdown and was hospitalised long-term. Jamie went to live with his brother, and changed schools. ‘That got me out of the situation.’

Jamie was in a correctional centre when he spoke to the Commissioner. He had never revealed his story before. ‘You’re the first people I’ve ever spoken to about this.’ His criminal offences relate to his drug use, which he’s certain was triggered by his experiences of abuse.

‘That was a direct result of what had happened. Smoking pot, and then turning to intravenous drug use – heroin, amphetamines, cocaine; that was all just to deal with the anxiety and the uncomfortable feeling I had – have – being in my own skin. I think drugs must have numbed that feeling away from me. Or methamphetamine sort of clouded my mind into this fake sort of happiness. That was an escape. Then the opiates – that just fixed whatever pain I was in, psychologically’, he explained.

Jaime said his life might have turned out differently if he’d known as a child that if you were abused you could talk about it to people and not get into trouble. Or taken from your family.

‘It would have helped me to know that it’s a crime.’

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