Quentin Michael's story

Quentin’s father was a ‘functioning alcoholic’ and his mother was addicted to prescription medication. The only child still living at home in the 1970s, he was extremely unhappy there – and dreaded attending his ‘intimidating’ private high school too.

Dr Mathieson was his family’s doctor on Sydney’s north shore. Quentin believes Mathieson was aware of his situation at home, and took advantage of his vulnerability to sexually abuse him.

The first time this happened Quentin was 14 years old. He had a common cold and was taken to see Mathieson, who ‘asked me to remove my pants and underwear and then he explained that he needed to obtain some semen to send away and check. To do this he used lubricant and quite vigorously used one hand to stimulate my penis. On the first occasion I did not ejaculate’.

Quentin remembers looking over at a photograph of the doctor with his family, and that Mathieson took a personal phone call while masturbating him. This abuse happened on a further two occasions, and he would also ask Quentin questions about how often he masturbated himself.

At first Quentin did not understand that what the doctor was doing was wrong. However, prior to his third appointment, he told one of his classmates he was seeing Mathieson that afternoon. This boy was also a patient of the doctor, and asked ‘“does he jerk you off?” I said “yeah, he does”. He said “he does it to me too. It’s weird isn’t it?” ... That was the first other person I ever talked to about it’.

As a result of this discussion ‘I just knew that it was wrong. I’d got to that point, it was the confirmation that he was absolutely lying to me about the testing’.

Quentin did not report the abuse to anyone at the time – he could not speak to his mother, his father was struggling with a mental breakdown, and he did not know who else he could tell. ‘It was just an isolated situation. I had no idea what to do.’

He now wonders why the reception staff at the medical centre did not question why the doctor would spend over half an hour alone with a child in his room for a common cold.

As a young adult Quentin went through an unsettled period and used marijuana and other drugs. He was ‘uneasy sexually’ and struggled with issues of trust.

In the 1990s Quentin met someone who had worked at a medical association, and disclosed what Dr Mathieson had done to him. ‘He said that he knew Mathieson’s record well, and knew that there had been complaints about him and that he’d been moved around.’

Around this time Quentin ran into Mathieson when travelling. ‘That was a very strange moment in all of this. Because until then it had just been a memory ... It was almost dreamlike ... And actually to see him, actually this guy exists, he still exists ... I must have stopped and stared at him because he looked at me.’

Quentin is unsure whether Mathieson recognised him, or ‘would have just been watching his back’ because so many people knew what he had done. ‘Anyone at any time could have confronted him.’

He didn’t feel able to approach the doctor. ‘What could you do? How do you start accusing someone? ... No, I just couldn’t, I was just dumbstruck.’

Quentin later heard reports in the media as to the extent of the doctor’s offending, which surprised him as he thought his own experience was more isolated. Learning Mathieson had been charged and convicted he felt ‘considerable regret that I wasn’t one of the people that gave evidence ... Only because I didn’t know’. He intends to speak with police now, but is unsure whether there is any point in making a formal complaint at this stage.

Quentin’s memories of the abuse became more prominent when his own son reached adolescence. He has now told his wife, who accompanied him to meet with the Commissioner, and has a happy family life and successful career.

Still, ‘on a fairly daily basis this memory comes back ... It doesn’t haunt, it’s just there’. Recently he began therapy for stress and anxiety issues, and briefly discussed the abuse with his counsellor.

‘I think if anything the closure gets harder as you get older. I think as you grow as a person you become wiser and you become more conscious of the injustices and the impact. So when you move from a 14 year old – you just think it’s about you, it’s just you – and as you have kids and then as you learn more ... Yes, I live a very good life but it could have been otherwise, so you sort of realise how vulnerable you were.’

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