Jethro's story

Jethro enjoyed his years at a Catholic primary school in Queensland, and immediately noticed a big difference when he began high school at a De La Salle college in the early 1980s. Discipline at the school was very harsh.

‘The Brothers … they obviously had the power. And there were lay teachers, but the Brothers … had the positions of authority and mostly what they said goed, I mean ultimately they had the ultimate decisions.’

‘There was an inherent bastardry and complete lack of controls over any of the Brothers’, and Jethro remembers one Brother in particular, who was ‘just an awful, awful piece of work’.

Jethro told the Commissioner there was ‘everything from, back then you’d get the strap for punishment, but also … the most obvious statement I make is that we had a Brother who joined us in a position of authority, who was historically known to have abused kids in a previous school’.

The new sports teacher, who started at the school at the same time as Jethro, was called Martin Webster, or Brother Goban. Jethro told the Commissioner, ‘I prefer to call him arsehole, to be honest’. Brother Goban had been transferred from another state, after incidents of abuse at a previous school. ‘Personally, the fact that they employed this person knowing that this … happened, just makes a mockery of the whole system.’

There were rumours around the school that Brothers, including Brother Goban, were sexually abusing boys but nothing was ever done about it. Jethro told the Commissioner that abuse by the Brothers was so widespread that if the lay teachers didn’t know, ‘I don’t know what planet they were living on and why didn’t they say anything’.

‘We were young, but we weren’t stupid, and you know, you could see, you just know stuff happened.’

Jethro told the Commissioner that Brother Goban would sexually abuse students in front of others. For instance, on the bus one day, Brother Goban ‘physically shoved a friend of mine’s head in his crotch in front of everyone, and we laughed it off’.

‘He’d have his favourites and those favourites would be in his room for, you know, half an hour’. Brother Goban’s ‘favourites’ included girls from the sister school next door. Jethro believes ‘he’d be playing the game with not just me, with you know, it’s hard to guess … tens and tens of kids in that school’.

For two years, Brother Goban subjected Jethro to sexual abuse that involved ‘the touching of my genitals, inappropriate fondling and touching, and emotional torment’. Jethro was 12 when the abuse started. The abuse stopped when Jethro observed another boy being abused and decided that ‘this is ridiculous. What is going on here? And from that moment I just completely avoided him’.

Jethro told the Commissioner, ‘I’ll tell you upfront, the reason that I find it easier to talk to you because my abuse wasn’t … no one had sexual intercourse with me which in some ways … I consider myself very fortunate … I dodged a bullet in that way because the sexual offence that occurred to me was, you know, a consistent kind of groping, inappropriate you know, to me, in my position, I got off lightly. So that’s why I’m much more open to talk about this’.

Jethro told the Commissioner, ‘The whole system let me down and you know, I understand why people turn to drugs or whatever … I’ve obviously had a few issues but they haven’t presented themselves as hard as some other people have … I will say that the most strong emotion that I have is that I’d like to track down Brother Goban-Webster and I’d like to do him some physical damage. That’s what I’d like to do to be honest’.

‘My immediate reaction to him is rage towards him and rage towards how he thinks he could get away with it. What really upsets me most about hearing all these cases is these Brothers or priests have committed it have died, and they’ve either dodged custodial sentences or dodged any type of … punishment. You know, the fact that it potentially is still going on is a major concern to me.’

In the mid-2000s, Jethro received a compensation payment and a letter of apology from the Church through their Towards Healing scheme, and was appreciative that the Church ‘never put me in a compromising position saying that they did not believe me or they weren’t willing … the amount that was settled was considered … quite a good amount’.

Jethro told the Commissioner, ‘I find it shocking that we’re still hearing on the news that it’s happening, you know … it’s still happening and it’s just got to stop and if it doesn’t, you know, we’re not living in a humane society, to be honest’.

‘I came here today to add more evidence so you can build hopefully a credible response to what happened. My immediate concern is again making sure … the issue that everyone’s faced historically is that the whole thing … has been kept secret and you know, I think it would be a criminal act for me if I didn’t come forward knowing as well … you can’t have a case based on three people. You need to have as much evidence to formulate your views … so I needed to.’


Content updating Updating complete