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Neville William's story

In his final year at a Melbourne De La Salle high school in the late 1950s, Neville was sexually abused by lay teacher Doug Richards.

‘I was 17 during that year and that was when I was invited to his house and molested’, Neville said.

Richards had befriended Neville and knew his father was a serviceman who was often away from home.

Neville recalled Richards often asking boys personal questions for what he said was ‘research’.

‘These questions would be asked at lunch time, and he never had any sort of notebook. So he … informed us that as a result of his questions he was able to classify us sort of sexually.’ After telling one of Neville’s peers he ‘was 80% heterosexual and 20% homosexual’, the boy ‘went off to visit a prostitute’.

Neville liked and trusted Richards and often went to his house, where Richards eventually abused him. After the abuse Neville kept going to the house ‘but nothing like that happened again’. Richards, however, persisted in trying to convince Neville he was homosexual.

‘On one occasion he told me the equivalent of: if I didn’t form an association with him I would – and this is more or less a quotation – run off with a man by the age of 35. Now, I didn’t find that terribly convincing. I didn’t reply to it and it wasn’t said again. But [there were] three occasions like that, and I certainly didn’t reply. I had no interest whatsoever.’

He thought it odd that the Brothers didn’t seem to mind what Richards did or how he taught.

‘I have no idea why they kept him or why they employed him’, Neville said. ‘But he had no control over the classes and they could be heard at 40 or 50 paces … On one occasion he was to give us a bit of a speech, and he [argued] against Bertrand Russell … and so we had him standing in front of the class taking a moral stand and yet quite unaware of the contrast between that and his own action and activity.’

In the early 1990s, a newspaper article written by Richards prompted Neville to contact the De La Salle Brothers. Neville ‘hinted’ at the abuse but didn’t make a formal complaint.

In the mid-2010s, Neville wrote again and this time received a response recommending he contact police. Neville felt this was a ‘sarcastic statement’ because Richards was dead and the author of the letter knew there would be nothing Victoria Police could do.

Neville believed it ‘unfortunate’ that Richards had ‘imposed on the school and pupils and parents’ and that he’d later had articles published in mainstream press, ‘acting as some sort of moral assessor of the country’.

‘I thought he should be discredited’, Neville said.

At different times in life, Richard’s behaviour ‘kept affecting’ Neville, who said he now hoped to ‘put it all behind me’.

‘Having thought about this for so long and for so many years and so on, and its various effects, it’s you know, rather a relief.’

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