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Jarred's story

Jarred was around 19 years old when his former teacher, Mr Donaldson, rang his home as he’d done many times. It was at least six years since Mr Donaldson had ‘massaged’ Jarred and fellow student, Scott, as part of ‘character development’ for the school play.

‘He wanted to get in contact with me again. And I wasn’t interested. He kept calling, insisting. Eventually I became furious, absolutely furious. It … probably triggered something. It wasn’t a normal reaction when I look back on it. And I remember that I actually called him a paedophile - as an insult, not an accusation so much. But that’s just what came out of my mouth. And he went dead silent on the phone … And then he said, “Scott will never testify”. What - what the hell is he talking about? … And then he threatened me and he said … “Careful what you do” … I can’t remember how he threatened me, but the implication, what he was implying, was he doesn’t have to do anything to me. He can get somebody else … to do something.’

Jarred found this ‘terrifying’ not just in relation to himself but also to his family, and believes this may have, even subconsciously, discouraged him from reporting the abuse.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s Jarred’s family was ‘happy’ and ‘open’. He ‘absolutely loved’ being at his public primary school. He then went on to a prestigious private high school where he met Mr Donaldson. In his first year there, Jarred didn’t have much to do with Donaldson, although he remembers him being a bit ‘touchy, feely’ towards all the boys. But the following year, Jarred had him for a number of subjects.

Mr Donaldson cast him and Scott in the school play. Under the pretext of ‘character development’ he asked the boys to strip down to their underwear one day. This occurred in a schoolroom when they were alone. As Jarred described in a written statement he gave the Commissioner, ‘He was literally licking his lips, staring at our bodies not as students, but as objects’. Mr Donaldson also started massaging the boys and tried to lead them into conversations about sex.

‘It made me feel utterly disgusted. I do recall, at some point, a teacher walked in on us and was shocked. He talked to Mr Donaldson outside the room. That was the end of the rehearsal. We were told later there would be no more character development in that schoolroom. Looking back at that, it amazes me that nothing happened as a result of what that teacher saw. Two naked students being massaged by a teacher.’

Jarred’s parents weren’t told and school, as well as rehearsals, continued. ‘Eventually you forget it.’ At some point another boy pulled out of the play. The reluctant explanation given was that his parents didn’t want him near Mr Donaldson as he wasn’t to be trusted. ‘It wasn’t much talked about.’ Another boy in the cast left the school because his family apparently didn’t have the money.

Sometime later, Mr Donaldson arranged to have Jarred and Scott over to his house on a Friday evening to rehearse. They were to stay overnight. Jarred was very excited to be going as he was enthusiastic about the play.

Donaldson took the two boys to dinner and, at the table, starting discussing nakedness again, even suggesting they should perform naked in front of the whole school. A man and a woman were sitting at a nearby table. When Mr Donaldson went to the bathroom the man came up to the boys and told them to ring their parents now and get out of there. The boys, not knowing how to respond to a stranger, did nothing.

At his house, Donaldson started massaging the boys again. At one point he turned out the lights and Jarred hid from him in a corner. Later, when it was time for bed, Jarred thinks they were given something to drink. His memory is hazy from that point but he believes they were drugged and raped by Donaldson. Jarred can’t be certain but he thinks another, younger man came to the house as well.

Jarred told his parents what happened up until him going to sleep. They didn’t see it as significant and dismissed it as a tall tale, which made Jarred ‘furious’. Years later, his mother apologised for this. ‘I think she feels guilty and partially to blame.’ Their response, however, discouraged Jarred from talking about it - although he did raise it on a number of occasions with them at the time.

Scott left the school at the end of the year. Shortly afterwards there was a death in Jarred’s family. He doesn’t know how much of his behaviour was due to this or the sexual abuse but his life ‘ran off the rails’. He smoked marijuana. His grades dropped from straight As to ‘virtually failed’. He did, however, have outside interests.

Jarred went on to lead a successful life. In recent years, and as a result of the Royal Commission being in the news, Jarred has disclosed his experiences to his mother and a couple of people close to him. He hasn’t been to a counsellor. He hasn’t reported to the police but is happy for the Commission to refer it. He’s considering reporting it to his old school.

Although Jarred considers his day to day life has not been impacted by the sexual abuse, he did have ‘a complete and utter meltdown’ when he first contacted the Royal Commission.

He knows that, now, memories might come to the surface, ‘which I hope does happen because I would like to know. I want to know what happened … This sort of wondering and not knowing and being unsure is quite exhausting’.

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