Jemima's story

Jemima never told the nuns what Wayne Churchill used to do to her, but they must have worked it out somehow. ‘Something happened, and the nuns knew. And to their credit, they stepped in.’

Churchill was Jemima’s science teacher at her Catholic high school in western Sydney. He was in his early 20s and rode a motorbike. Jemima thought he was suave and liked the compliments he gave her.

Sometimes he would ask her to stay back and assist him after class, and would rub against her and cuddle her. ‘I don’t remember thinking I was in a relationship ... But I remember thinking that somebody “sees” me.’

On her 16th birthday in the early 1980s, Churchill drove to her family home to give her a present – a sweatshirt with a lewd slogan on the front. Jemima spent some time with him in his car, during which he kissed and fondled her. She could tell that he had an erection. He said she shouldn’t tell anyone about the gift, but she used to wear it and her mother would wash it.

Jemima’s parents didn’t say anything about the visit or present, although it’s possible her mother contacted the school without telling her. All she knows is that one of the nuns asked her about Churchill, and then she and her parents were called to a meeting.

She still didn’t say what Churchill had done, because she was scared of being in trouble. Her father handed over a cheque for the school’s building fund, which she now thinks may have been to keep the matter quiet. Jemima was moved to a different science class, and Churchill continued to teach at the school.

After this, she didn’t think about Churchill much. Years later at a school reunion some former classmates asked her what had gone on between them, telling her ‘it was pretty obvious to us’ something was happening back then. She recently told her partner about it, and he stated that Churchill must be a paedophile. It wasn’t until that conversation that she reconsidered his behaviour as abuse.

Jemima also told the Royal Commission about another incident of abuse, which happened when she was doing work experience at the age of 17. The school didn’t assess or monitor the placement, which Jemima had organised herself, so there were ‘absolutely no controls in place, no checks’. During the week of employment she was assigned to work with a man named Franz Bosch, who was in his 20s.

They became friendly and Bosch provided her with cigarettes and Coca Cola. On her last day he took her to his home and made her lunch. They smoked marijuana, and she felt dizzy. They then had sex. Later Bosch met Jemima’s parents, and he accompanied her to her formal. She went to work with him for a short while, but has not kept in touch.

Jemima was inspired to speak with the Commission after a radio announcer appealed for survivors to come forward. She’d also seen reports about the Commission’s public hearings and decided to contribute by sharing her own experiences. ‘I just thought ... how many of these bastards have gotten away with this?’

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