Keith Bevan's story

Innocence can blind, Keith believes. One of eight children in a 'very Catholic' family, he was born in a remote Victorian farming town that was 'very white, very National Party'.

In the 1960s this was not a community that treated a school teacher/scoutmaster with suspicion. So when Alan Court added a photography course to his other teaching duties, nobody had the slightest apprehension, least of all Keith.

'The first time he touched me was at high school, and that was to do with photography … We were in the darkroom, underneath a blanket together, he was showing me what to do, loading the film into the developing canister … That was the first time he started touching me.'

Keith was 12 – 'I don't think I had even started puberty' – and had no idea what was happening. 'Sex education, back then, out in the country – it was ridiculous! I didn't know that such a thing as a paedophile even existed.'

In the small community, Court had constant access to Keith – at school, at scouts and when visiting his family home. 'School, scouting and then photography, this hobby – he got me everywhere … And Alan regularly socialised and even had meals with my family, who had no idea of the abuse and believed he was an upstanding supportive person.

'In Form 2 we went for a trip, and my parents were so trusting – two carloads of kids and two teachers, driving interstate, camping on the way. And all the way over that abuse was already happening.'

Court didn't ever threaten Keith to keep silent: 'You wonder why did I let it happen, apart from the fact that he picked me out because I was a young gay boy? But when he started molesting me was before puberty, so I wouldn't have even known.

'But later I responded, I orgasmed, I thought I was participating … and I was always frightened that someone would find out. So he didn't really need to threaten me.'

Keith's work suffered. 'I fell out of school and went to a Catholic boarding school. But then he used to come and visit me … and take me out on day trips on weekends.'

The abuse stopped 'when I was 15 and was finally able to say no'. A decade later Keith disclosed to his mother. In a written submission to the Royal Commission he wrote:

'Before my mother died, she realised something had happened and asked me if there had been abuse, which I admitted to. And I assured her I would report the abuse as he was still working as a teacher at the time.

'I called into the police station and made a statement. The police then contacted me, saying they had followed up on Alan through the school he was working at, and were told that there were no other accusations, and that the man was an upstanding citizen, now married.'

Keith had already decided to 'move on', and didn't pursue the police investigation. Nor has he ever considered seeking compensation, or legal moves against the state education system. 'At the time my mum and I were satisfied that a report had been made, and if any other reports were made, I would be willing to support any other people who bought up accusations against Court.'

Shortly before attending the Royal Commission private session, Keith noticed Court's name on a social media platform. He clicked to read more of the profile, forgetting that his presence would be automatically logged. 'That was a really silly thing I did ... Soon after I got an email, asking if we could meet for lunch and talk about old times.

'I never answered, of course.'


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