‘I’ve agonised about it for 70-odd years … At the time I didn’t really know what was happening … [but] when I saw this thing going on, I thought, it’s better to get it off my chest, and tell ‘em it wasn’t just happening recently. It was happening back then, well and truly.’
Maurice grew up in Canberra and attended a state primary school in the early 1940s. ‘My mum and dad didn’t have much money at all and I was a bit behind [at school] and when this [teacher] said to Mum that he was quite prepared to help me after school, she just naturally took it.’
Mr Warren tutored Maurice at his home, where he lived with his wife and children. The tutoring took place in the lounge room, with the door locked. ‘I went up there and … he did a bit of work and that and then he started, you know, “Your trousers are a bit tight”, so he undid that … Nothing much happened and then I thought, “Well, this must be normal” …
‘Next time, it got worse and worse and worse and then by the time I’d been about six times, I decided I knew enough [schoolwork] … I never told anyone because he was a big bloke and I wasn’t sure what was happening.’ Maurice was 10 or 11 when he was sexually abused, but didn’t realise that’s what it was until he was in his mid-20s.
Warren threatened Maurice. ‘He’d hold my arm behind my back, put it up very high, so it hurt like hell and he said, “If you tell anyone, I’ll break it” and of course, I never told anyone for 50-odd years or more. It just sort of … worried me all that time …
‘It never goes away, and yet, there’s no reason. You’d think after 70 years … I’d have got over that … The trouble is, you can remember things that happened back there, but you can’t remember what happened last week, as you get older.’
Maurice said, ‘The only thing that made me happy when I came back [to Canberra in the early 60s] … I read in the paper where he’d been sent to jail for six months in Sydney. So that sort of eased it a bit’.
Maurice was going to keep the newspaper article but he thought, ‘if I kept it, and someone found it, they’d wonder why, so I just read it and had a bit of a grin to myself, then [said] “Bewdy”.’
When Maurice told his mother about the sexual abuse four or five years before she died, ‘she was horrified. At the time, she thought she was doing the right thing’. He never told his father. ‘If Dad had known, he would have gone up and punched him.’
Maurice has got to the stage where he ‘sort of [doesn’t] mind telling people I was molested but I wouldn’t go into the details. Like, I haven’t told many people I’m coming here … The only time it gets to me is like, if a bloke gives me a hug or something … or when this Royal Commission came up …
‘It made me think of it, where I’ve been virtually putting it in the background and then I thought, well, if it helps somebody else it’s most likely worthwhile doing. And I was very emotional when I spoke to the ladies on the phone, but I feel with you people, I feel a bit happier … even though I was as nervous as hell to come in here.’
Maurice told the Commissioner, ‘If I have [helped] in any way I’m pleased. It sort of really bugged me for a while and just to get it off your chest and to find out that others have done it … At least I’ll go away now and I’ll think, “That chapter’s virtually shut now” and that, to me, is a big thing’.