Louis attended his local government high school in the mid 1970s, and in Year 9 met drama teacher Mr Perry while involved in the school’s theatrical productions.
Perry ‘was a youngish teacher there, pretty popular, flamboyant, fun’. The plays became Louis’s main focus at school, and Perry came to pay him particular attention.
Louis thought the teacher was kind and caring, and felt he’d found a place where he fit in. Perry was open about his homosexuality, and attempted to convince Louis that he was homosexual too. He would invite both male and female students to his house (using the girls to ‘entice’ the boys into coming over), and would provide alcohol.
It wasn’t long before Perry started sexually abusing Louis, which eventually included fondling, digital penetration, oral sex, and attempting ‘to put his penis into my anus’. This abuse took place in the soundproof drama rooms where students would go to rehearse, and also at Perry’s house. Louis would try to tell Perry to stop, but Perry would say he should just relax and enjoy himself.
At one stage Louis’ parents went away on holiday, and sent him to stay with Perry for a month. The teacher abused him every night for his entire stay. Louis suspected there were other boys also being abused by the teacher.
Because Perry had been so good to him in many ways, Louis didn’t feel he should or could tell anyone about the abuse, or that he would be believed.
‘To talk to my parents would have been just useless, ‘cause it was too fantastic to even give any credence too, spectacular really, ridiculous. But my mother was concerned, like the amount of time I was spending with him.’
When Louis was in Year 10 another teacher noticed a change in him. She took Louis aside and asked if Perry had ever touched him or asked him to do anything he did not want to do, saying that she had heard things that disturbed her.
Louis was unable to disclose the abuse even when asked directly, and said everything was fine. ‘She tried really hard to get something out of me, and of course I said nothing.’
During and after the abuse his ‘school marks just evaporated’ and he failed his final year. After school Louis found work and tried to stay away from Perry, but Perry continued to contact him.
Louis developed difficulties with attachment and relationships, became ‘hypersexualised’, and now feels guilt about women he hurt because of this. He has a long history of mental health issues including depression and suicidal ideation, and has been prescribed medication to help regulate his moods.
When Louis first told his wife about the abuse he was in his 40s, and she encouraged him to get counselling through a sexual assault service (‘which I thought was only for women’). The counsellor was very helpful but left after a few sessions, so Louis didn’t continue with it.
‘He put it to me that I was hurt, and that I’d been rejected actually by Perry, which I just couldn’t get my head around ... How he dropped me, that that meant something that I didn’t actually register. He said that strategies could be writing Perry a letter, confronting him.’
Louis decided to contact Perry, and met with him while wearing a concealed tape recorder. He asked Perry why he had abused his position of authority, to which Perry replied that Louis had been over 15 at the time (which was irrelevant as homosexuality at any age had been illegal in the jurisdiction at the time).
Recently police contacted Louis after a former classmate reported being abused by Perry and gave his name as another potential victim. Louis met with police and gave them a copy of the recording, as well as making a statement. He doesn’t have a lot of faith in the law however, and doubts his case is a priority for the officer he’s been dealing with.
Although Louis has given this evidence to police, he still has conflicted feelings about speaking out against Perry or trying to sue him for damages.
‘I feel sorry for him – that’s the weirdest thing.’