When he was eight years old, Nathan was groomed and then raped by a close friend of the family. He told his mother, who slapped him for saying ‘terrible things’. In a written statement Nathan said, ‘I am convinced that due to the fact that I was abused, I have been able to note and believe victims of other instances of abuse’.
Nathan grew up in regional New South Wales. In the 1960s he started high school at a state-run boarding school. The school held high status in the community and Nathan’s parents were keen for him to go there. Nathan described the school as ‘a brutal Dickensian place with beatings, bruising and bullying’.
He recalls older boys being ‘sadists by tradition’ and very much into ‘sexual groping’. A regular ‘character building’ initiation was to make junior boys in first year ‘crawl on hands and knees through the piggery’.
On a number of occasions Nathan was brutalised by a ‘table prefect’. In his written statement he recalls, ‘he [the table prefect] would force me to remove my trousers. As I held onto the end of the steel bed, backside bent, he would unfurl a kitbag rope to swing with all his might’.
Nathan reported this to the housemaster who was sympathetic but took no action. When Nathan showed the scars to his mother she thought he had inflicted the wounds himself.
‘I recall that some of the teachers were likely to be paedophiles because they would try to get us 12-year-old boys back to their rooms. My English teacher succeeded in getting a group of us to regularly visit him; he would promise relaxed tutoring to improve our studies and though we were naive, we all decided that [he] was a groomer … We decided it would be unwise to continue the visits - even if it meant poor marks in English and receiving the cane from him.’
Nathan felt overwhelmingly isolated. He suffered from anxiety and recalls having his first noticeable heart palpitations. After six months he convinced his parents to let him leave. When his father ‘confronted’ the principal, he was told that Nathan was lying.
Nathan became a teacher. He told the Commissioner about a time he taught at a Christian Brothers school in the 1980s. ‘There was one teacher there called Lucas Adams. He was a Brother and he was the Year 11 master … We took them on excursions … [up the coast] … and Lucas Adams would talk about his relationship with [one of the boys]. And would talk about this “love”. And they’d go for long walks on the beach, under the moon, and that sort of thing. Smoke cigarettes together. He never actually talked about explicit sexual things but, goodness, just a small step away surely.’
The following year, Nathan reported this to the new principal at the school, Brother Whelan. ‘His words were, “You will be dismissed if you say that sort of thing”.’ However, Nathan had already resigned. He went on to have a professional career elsewhere.
Nathan has not taken action in regard to the sexual abuse he experienced at the boarding school but believes the culture in it hasn’t changed. He has never reported the abuse to the Department of Education. He has some health problems that he believes stem from the trauma he experienced in his childhood. Although his first abuser, the family friend, is deceased, Nathan is considering filing a report with the police as he feels it is likely there were other victims.