Lynval was in his early teens when Gil Moretti, a sports teacher at his school, started sexually abusing him. It began with offers of individual coaching and lifts home. Then, with no one else around, Moretti would take Lynval into the change rooms and tell him it was a normal part of training and life for men to touch each other’s bodies.
Over a period of time the abuse progressed from masturbation to oral sex, with Moretti giving Lynval money in return for sexual acts. After several months, Lynval inadvertently disclosed the abuse to his brother, who told their mother. She met with the religious principal of the school, who implied that they had prior knowledge of Moretti’s behaviour and had tried to get him to stop. The principal assured Lynval’s mother everything would be fine.
A few days later, Lynval was called to the principal’s office, and although he can’t recall exactly what was discussed, he said that at the time he had the feeling he was in trouble. He also felt bad that he’d caused trouble for the school and its leaders.
No action was taken against Moretti, who continued to coach sport, participate in school and community life, and sexually abuse Lynval.
A couple of years later, Lynval left school and the abuse stopped. By then he was smoking large amounts of marijuana and struggling with suicidal thoughts. Lynval told the Commissioner that decades after the abuse, dark thoughts still arose periodically.
‘There’s still a background noise, but it’s hopefully controlled’, he said.
Marijuana had kept his feelings about the abuse in check, and when Lynval stopped smoking in his 30s, he felt swamped by anxiety and depression. ‘My life was go to work, come home, start smoking pot till two or three in the morning, get up at seven, go to work, rinse, repeat. I stopped driving when I was smoking pot because I, well – sensible, so if people didn’t come to visit me I pretty much didn’t necessarily leave the house, except for going to work.’
In the early 2000s Lynval made a statement to police. When asked for details of dates and times the abuse occurred, he struggled to remember. Officers told him, given his poor recollection, it was unlikely that they’d be able to successfully prosecute Moretti, and no charges were brought.
Several years later police reopened the case, and Lynval had a more positive experience.
‘I can say that every police person I’ve dealt with has been incredibly supportive, which surprised me. They are quite good. It’s one of those things you sort of don’t know what to expect … but they did their best to make me feel comfortable.
‘I mean, it’s not the most comfortable thing giving a statement. Rooms where you give a statement in a police station aren’t designed to be the most friendly places, but it was a better experience than I thought it was going to be and I’d steeled myself up for it and remembered a lot better.’
However, his experience with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was not so positive, and Lynval often found himself having to chase up news about the case. ‘Any information flow always seemed to be a bit stilted when the DPP was supposed to provide me documentation, or there was always a lag of getting stuff …
‘Just being kept in the loop and I imagine some people don’t want to be but if I’m knowing something’s going to happen, I want to know that it’s going to happen and understand if there’s a delay, why there’s a delay, what’s going on and that sort of thing.’
Lynval told the Commissioner that, aside from the abuse, he remained angry that the school did nothing to stop Moretti abusing him and others. ‘I did find some of that anger resurging when I found out the school – regardless of their denials or considerable statements of denial – harboured him, kept him around kids. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind they were aware of his activities.
‘The problem with any insular group is the first thought by the leaders is how you protect the group, not how do you protect the individual, and any person that is part of that group is going to look to the group’s leadership for a first solution.
‘Probably the best avenue would be to ensure that from a curriculum perspective the kids are educated about these things because they’ll take that home, and, I mean, in my case I felt like I was in trouble. If I hadn’t felt like I was in trouble, if someone had had a talk to me and explained what was right and what was wrong, things may have turned out differently.’