Needa's story

‘He thinks I knew. He thinks a parent would know these things’, Needa wrote to the Royal Commission of the sexual abuse inflicted on her son Bevan by a primary school teacher at his Anglican school in New South Wales.

‘His abuse by this teacher ruined a beautiful bright child who has become a very sick person who thinks we are all hypocrites, liars, con-artists and probably run paedophile rings.’

Bevan is now in his 40s and suffers severe anxiety, depression, PTSD and is often suicidal, Needa told the Commissioner.

She approached the Commission ‘for Bevan and the other children and for parents’.

He was always a ‘bright’ child, ‘an exceptionally good looking boy’, who learned quickly and adored his younger sister, Needa said. He also adored his class teacher in Years 4 and 5, Frank Corfield, as did most of the other boys.

But Corfield abused Bevan on several occasions including in his own home and during independent camps with other children during school holidays.

Coinciding with his latter years in primary school was the implosion of Bevan’s parents’ marriage which followed the birth of his sister, a neurological crisis for his mother and an attempted suicide by a close relative.

Needa felt that both she and her son were groomed by Corfield. He invited her to his house to discuss Bevan’s progress. He also dropped by her home unannounced ‘on many casual visits’ when it was just Bevan at home with Needa and her new baby.

As a teacher herself, Needa resented this blurring of the professional relationship she felt should be kept between teacher and parent. So did some other parents she knew who were ‘annoyed’ at Corfield’s overtures to be ‘friends’.

Corfield on several occasions asked Needa’s permission to ‘massage’ Bevan whom he claimed was ‘uptight’. Needa allowed it once but was attacked verbally afterwards by her son who said he didn’t want Corfield doing that again.

But Corfield tried again, several times, ‘to make me feel guilty’, saying it was in Bevan’s best interests. Needa remained firm. Once, her refusal to allow him to take Bevan to school early for a rehearsal enraged Corfield to the point that veins were standing out on his neck.

Needa also refused Corfield’s overtures to inspect Bevan’s body for a particular cross-species infection he claimed the boy might have contracted on one of their camps. He insisted that only he knew what to look for.

In Year 6 when he was about 12, Bevan’s previous trusting, calm, gentle, even gullible nature changed.

‘You’re a teacher', he told Needa, ‘and teachers can’t be trusted'.

She said Bevan rejected both his parents at times and did not want to return to the same school for his high school years.

On one occasion in about Year 8, Needa was with Bevan when they passed Corfield in a corridor. She ‘felt Bevan recoil’ during the ‘really weird’ encounter as her son barely responded to Corfield’s greeting.

‘I hate him! I hate him!’ Bevan told her afterwards. Years later Needa learned from another mother at the school that Corfield had eventually left that school ‘under a cloud’.

Needa was told about Bevan’s molestation when he was in his late 20s. ‘Bevan’s belief is … that parents know.’

‘I said, “Well, I did stop you going to a lot of things with Frank Corfield because I was feeling uncomfortable”.’

Several times since, Needa has talked to Bevan about the sexual abuse. ‘I said, “Bevan you’ve got to understand, I’m your mum and I need to know and I’m sorry”. I apologised to him many times, you know – “I’m really, really sorry!”’

Her son is ‘a tortured soul’ who is constantly anxious, criticises himself and feels shame that he never fulfilled his potential.

‘I think he wants to get on with his life', Needa said, ‘but he still has so much anger'.

She knows he will never report what occurred. Bevan ‘doesn’t trust the police’. He also hates doctors, teachers and counsellors – because Corfield attempted to counsel him several times.

Needa’s own counselling, however, has helped her. ‘I’ve got to keep going', she said.

About 10 years ago she anonymously reported Corfield to the Child Protection Helpline but was told it would not go anywhere without a name attached.

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