Steven grew up in Victoria in the mid-1960s. He was born with physical disabilities that made him a target for bullying at school, but his teacher, Mr Morgan, was a ‘very sympathetic person … you could describe him like a father figure. Always looking out for me’.
When he was eight years old Steven was excited about attending his first school camp, assuring his anxious parents that he really wanted to go. At the camp Morgan sexually abused Steven three times, acts which had long-term consequences, including a lifetime of loneliness and a mistrust of others.
Steven told the Commissioner that Morgan was waiting outside his shower stall on the first night of camp. He assumed the teacher had come to escort him back to the campsite as it was getting dark, but ‘then he starts going on about … you know, “You need to be a man” type of thing … “When you’re a man things hurt, blah, blah, blah” … and the next thing I know his finger’s up me hooter … After I’ve sort of went and had a bit of a squeal or something … he sort of backed off. I can’t remember how the hell, or what I did, to get back’.
Morgan told him, ‘You can’t tell anybody. This is how you become a man’. The next evening, he again appeared when Steven stepped out of the shower. ‘He’s started with his, you know, “You’ve got to be a man … It takes pain”, things like that … Then he starts with his wandering hand … turns me around to face the wall … Next thing I know he’s humping me … but he’s still talking … “If you tell anybody they’ll be jealous”.’
Morgan was aware that Steven was a bed wetter and used this as an excuse to get him down to the amenities block later that night. Once there, he instructed Steven how to perform oral sex, and then ‘he ejaculated all over me. It was just like a bloody explosion. It’s gone all over the tracksuit, everything’. Morgan told him to have a shower, put his underpants and shirt back on and wash his tracksuit, ‘and if anybody asks to say that I wet the bed’.
In his early years of primary school, Steven was an excellent student, with a high reading level. He was ‘very good at everything. Obedient. Helpful’.
When he had Morgan as a teacher, his reports read: ‘Needs help. Needs help. Needs help … should put in more effort … listening is a problem … short attention span’. Two years later, when he was no longer taught by the man, he once again had a ‘glowing report. Very high reading level. Reached a fine standard. More than competent’.
When Steven began high school at a Catholic college, other students warned him about certain teachers. Boarders told stories of being molested, and students were often kept back after class behind locked doors. Steven’s experience with Morgan had made him very wary, and the one time a Brother asked him to stay behind after class, ‘it’s like alarm bells ringing straight away, so I was out the door … and after that he never bothered me again’.
Steven said that the memories of the abuse are always with him. ‘Always something would bring it to light. Whether it would be a sight, smell, view of somebody, or seeing something on television … It’s a thing to carry around that you don’t want to, like … he had this invisible bond … not bond … rope around my neck basically … You know, I distrust people. I may have an acquaintance, but then there’s, you know, when you’re going to turn from acquaintance to friendship. I won’t go there.’
Steven was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the late 90s, and was given ‘a crap load of pills’ which he soon stopped taking. ‘I actually thought about taking my life last week for the simple reason, I’m coming 50 and I have nothing. And this was all snatched from me and … very hard to get through a day to have enthusiasm about something’.
A consequence of his inability to form relationships is that he has no children or grandchildren, ‘at that time of your life you should be … enjoying these things’, and this is something that causes him much distress.
Steven has had a number of sessions with a psychologist, and this has been ‘very, very helpful because she knows how to turn things … in order to help me understand that … it wasn’t my fault … because that’s how I felt originally’.
He’s now contacted the police, and Morgan is facing a number of charges related to the abuse. If he needs to, Steven will testify in court because, ‘I’ve got to. If I’ve started it, I’ve got to finish it’.
In a statement to the Royal Commission he wrote, ‘MY SECRET has been my life, shaped my life, stolen my life and made me who I am. It is as if my life has been remotely controlled and out of my control – steered by somebody else. That somebody else, a trusted school teacher – Mr MORGAN’.