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Reggie Harold's story

In the 1970s, when Reggie was around 11 years old, he was twice sexually abused by Mr Frampton, the principal of his small Tasmanian government school. ‘I was a shy kid and only really had one or two friends ... My psychologist reckons that’s why he picked me out ... I was afraid of him.’

The first instance happened after a sex education class one day. Frampton lived near the school with his wife, and asked Reggie to help him take some equipment back to his house. ‘He took me into the toilet, where he was standing with his trousers down and he had an erection, and I didn’t really know what was going on. He’s telling me to grab it like this and do this, until he ejaculated.’

Reggie has flashbacks of Frampton rubbing his penis on him, and ‘he rubbed me like through me trousers until I got an erection, and I can’t remember any more of that’.

On the second occasion, a few months later, Frampton again asked Reggie to help him with packing up after an activity.

‘He encouraged me to go into the toilet with him. There he took out my penis and he sucked it really hard and hurt ... But he didn’t get his own out ...

‘It goes a lot deeper than this too, because for some reason he caned me a lot, and I don’t know why. Just at the drop of a hat he’d give me the stick, you know, whether he got a thrill out of that, or ...?’

Reggie did not feel he could disclose the abuse to any adults in his life. ‘Me and another boy did talk about, and he told me the same had happened to him, that he’d been sexually abused [by Frampton].’ Reggie’s not sure how this conversation came about – ‘whether we sensed, or whether I knew, because he was much the same as me ... not popular’.

Reggie became anxious and panicked about attending school, and he would hide to avoid going. Concentrating and learning were difficult, and he could not trust authority figures. Because of this he was absent on many occasions and unable to sustain friendships, which led to him feeling isolated and alone – impacts which continue to this day. ‘I’ve had a hard life because of it.’

He finished school early and went to work in labouring and maintenance jobs. His lack of education left him unable to obtain formal qualifications in other fields where he had good practical skills. He and his wife met in their teens - ‘and we still get on pretty good’ - and she is a great source of support.

When Reggie was in his 40s he had ‘a breakdown’ and felt suicidal. ‘I just got down low I think, things would get on top of me. The wife ended up taking me to hospital – I had some terrible thoughts on the way.’

At the hospital they ‘knocked me out’ and sent him to a psychologist. ‘He tried to get to the bottom of it, and I sort of didn’t really open up to him. And then he left and a lady took his place, a very nice lady. And she asked me the question – have I ever been sexually assaulted – after one session or two. And I said “Yeah”.’

This was the first time he had ever fully discussed the abuse as an adult, ‘but every day I thought about it, every day for years and years and years, I just couldn’t get it out of me mind’. He was referred to a sexual assault service but ‘didn’t click’ with the counsellor there.

Reggie used a mental health plan written by his GP to access a psychologist, and was identified as experiencing chronically high and invasive depression and anxiety. He has been prescribed medication to manage these conditions, combined with other strategies including cognitive behaviour therapy. Having used up all of the appointments covered by Medicare at this stage, he now has to pay for his regular sessions with the psychologist as well as his medications.

Around five years ago, after his parents died, Reggie made a report to police. ‘They were really good parents. I wish now I had’ve told Mum when it happened.’

Frampton denied the abuse when questioned – ‘of course he would’ – and without any other witnesses the prosecutor would not take the matter to trial. Someone else told him that they may have been hesitant to prosecute because of the cost. ‘I thought “Oh right, money’s worth more than your life”.’

Knowing that the primary police officer he dealt with believed him was of some comfort. ‘She said there was no doubt in her mind he was guilty. That’s what she said to me ... She told me I was very good with what I’d done, and it took a lot of courage, and she was proud of me for doing it. This made me feel better.’

The police told him he could apply for victims of crime compensation. He ‘spent money we didn’t have’ to speak to a lawyer who said he ‘didn’t have a good reason’ and probably wouldn’t get a payment.

His psychologist disagreed with the lawyer’s assessment, and helped Reggie write down his experiences and make an application. Eventually he was awarded an amount which considered his loss of education and employment opportunities, and some of the costs associated with his mental health treatment.

Reggie is now seeking an apology from the education department, but this has not been forthcoming. After his psychologist helped him write a letter to them he was told ‘they won’t do anything, they won’t say anything ... he’s [Frampton] not in our employ anymore’.

Not wanting to leave the matter there, Reggie then contacted the state education minister, reporting the abuse and that he’d requested an apology from the department. ‘He got back to me and said the education department didn’t receive anything from me.’

Reggie has now requested to meet face to face with the minister, but has been unsuccessful in his attempts so far. ‘The education department ought to at least say sorry. In some way they should be held accountable, because I was in their care.’

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