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Sammy's story

Sammy was good at sport, which helped him to fit into the Catholic boarding school he’d been sent to in the 1960s. Sammy told the Commissioner that the Tasmanian school had ‘a fairly tough environment … because a lot of the kids were from mining towns’. It was staffed at the time almost exclusively by priests.

‘They used to have a system where you could go to the priests’ rooms for extra tuition, in terms of academia. I just think they may have taken it a bit further.’

Father Ogilvy was the sports master and may also have taught Sammy in class. Late one night, when Sammy was around 14, Ogilvy called Sammy to his room and started to talk to him about what was sexually ‘normal’.

‘And then he basically said, “Take your pants off”, and then he started touching me and I got an erection. And he said, “You’re fine. Put your pants back on”.’

Sammy returned to his dormitory, unsure about what had happened. A student called from the dark asked him where he’d been. ‘I said, “I’ve been up to see Father Ogilvy”, and he said, “Oh you’ve been up for a sex lec have you?” Just like that. I remember standing there. I remember freezing because I felt paralysed and I thought, “Oh God, what have I done? Everyone knows”. So it’s always stuck with me and that’s a long time ago.

‘It’s made me realise, not then, but now in later years, about the possibility of other cases.’

A second incident of sexual abuse occurred about a year later. Sammy asked his biology teacher, Father Napier, a question about anatomy. Napier answered the question by inviting Sammy to his room, telling him to take his shirt off and then drawing on his bare torso. Sammy did not think much of this at the time but, looking back, he feels that Napier probably found this act sexually gratifying, especially as Napier was later jailed for child sexual assault.

Sammy did not disclose the sexual abuse to anyone at the time. He ‘tucked it away’ and felt mortified by the thought of talking about it. The first person he told was his wife, decades later. Sammy does not believe the abuse has had much of a detrimental impact on him.

‘I think you suppress these things … I don’t feel guilty, probably feel just taken advantage of. It’s not like I don’t think about it. I thought about it a lot.’

Sammy was jolted into approaching the Royal Commission after recent encounters gave him food for thought. ‘I went to a reunion a few years ago and a number of people were talking about things that happened to them by the same teacher [Ogilvy]. I remember sitting at the table and there were six kids sitting at the table, and four of them said they had some [abuse]. And he’d been there for 10 years and I thought, “God, four out of six”. And the reunion was only 33 people.

‘So that sort of troubled me.’

A little later Sammy attended a dinner party with old school friends where the subject of Ogilvy came up. Sammy said nothing about his own abuse, but suddenly the host spoke up and admitted he’d been assaulted by Ogilvy at the school. This was his friend’s first disclosure to anyone, including his wife of many years, who was deeply shocked. ‘Here I am at someone’s home, with a person who’s a really private person publicly making a statement.’

Finally, an acquaintance was discussing his own case of abuse at an Anglican private school and how emotionally difficult but necessary it had been to approach the Royal Commission. ‘He was talking about people having a responsibility to talk about it if they’d been “touched up”, basically.’

‘I started thinking about what he said about responsibility, about never having it happening again.’

Sammy subsequently decided to ‘come forward’ to the Royal Commission, and has agreed to have Ogilvy’s details passed to police. Sammy noted two other teachers from his time at school have been prosecuted for child sexual abuse, but never Ogilvy. ‘I’m happy to be interviewed. I’ve come this far. I don’t want to do it just as an academic exercise so someone can get it right in the future.’

‘I suppose I was thinking [Ogilvy’s] probably sitting there terrified waiting for someone to knock on the door … For me it was minor … but for some kids they could’ve got a lot more damaged from the same event. That’s what’s driven me.’

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