In the early 1970s, Stuart became a boarder at an Anglican college in regional New South Wales. The following year Phillip Jarvis arrived to take up teaching, sports coaching and assistant housemaster duties at the school. Stuart said Jarvis was well liked by the students and organised interesting outings and entertainment nights for them.
‘I was 14, and a bit of a loner,’ Stuart said. ‘I was walking around the school grounds bored one day and I saw Jarvis in the sports room. When I said I was looking for something to do, he said, “Do you want a shag?” I didn’t know what to say, but I wanted to pretend I knew about the world, and I said, “Yes”. Next thing we were under the table and he fondled me. Then he started to suck my penis. He asked me if I wanted to suck him and I said, “No”.’
Stuart told the Commissioner that Jarvis again abused him while driving to a camping weekend in the outback. He’d thought Jarvis’ car was safe because another boy, Terry, was also present. However, Jarvis gave the boys cigarettes and suggested that Stuart and Terry both participate in sex with him. They started fondling each other in the car and Stuart later saw Terry performing oral sex on Jarvis.
Jarvis sexually abused Stuart over the next few months. Two weeks before the end of term, Terry mentioned what had happened on the camping trip to other boys, one of whom informed the principal. The boys’ parents were contacted and Terry was removed immediately from the school. The principal told Stuart’s mother that Jarvis would be counselled, and that he’d help her in finding a new school for Stuart.
‘My mother thought otherwise. She said, “Why should my son have to leave while this predator gets to stay with all these boys?” She told him that if further abuse occurred he as principal would be a party to it.’ It was agreed that Jarvis stay for the next two weeks but not return the following term.
Stuart has had difficulties with managing his anger and was often impulsive in his behaviour. As an adult he found solace in another Protestant church. One day he disclosed the abuse to his pastor who asked if Stuart had reported it to the police. ‘I told him I hadn’t, and he said that every person has to face the consequences of their actions. He said that I had the power of justice in my hands.’
In the mid-2000s, Stuart reported the abuse to police. Terry corroborated his story, but didn’t want to report being abused himself. At the same time, three other men came forward with accounts of being abused by Jarvis in the 1970s. Jarvis was charged and convicted after pleading guilty.
Stuart’s experience of the court process was positive, though he would have liked to have been guided through it by someone with personal experience of sexual abuse.
He received $35,000 in victims compensation, and didn’t contemplate suing the Anglican Church. ‘I think they did what they thought was the right thing at the time, except Jarvis was offered counselling and I wasn’t. Hopefully, it would all be different if it happened today.’