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Webb's story

In his mid-teens Webb went to see his family GP in Sydney, Dr Charles Jannar, for treatment for a bad cold. ‘And very quickly my pants were down to the floor kind of thing. I thought, “What’s he doing this for? I’ve come for a sore throat”.’

Webb also had a minor problem with his testicles, which Jannar said would require surgery. ‘On one hand I was quite happy about that because I thought, “Finally, something’s going to happen”, because I felt embarrassed about [it].’

At Webb’s next appointment the doctor said he’d have to make sure that everything was ‘working’ before and after the operation. Jannar then masturbated Webb, and digitally penetrated him. ‘I felt powerless, I guess. You know, 16-year-old-boy and he’s a doctor ... in the 70s doctors were like gods.’

This happened several more times in the lead-up to Webb’s surgery. On one occasion Jannar tried to sexually abuse him twice during a single consultation.

‘Then the operation happened ... when I get wheeled into the operating room, I look up and there’s Dr Jannar. I thought, “What are you doing here?” Because he’s not a surgeon. I guess, for his own reasons, he wanted to be there and see what happened …

‘I had to go back to Jannar after the operation, to see if everything’s working okay. So it happened another couple of times in his surgery … Checking to see if all the mechanics were working, if I could actually ejaculate and all that.

‘On the one hand I was grateful … He told me many times, “Look, if you didn’t have this operation you’d be sterile by the time you’re 25”. So, “I saved you from that” kind of thing.

‘He normalised it. And I think that’s what saved me. I mean, it was traumatic but I thought in my mind, “This is standard medical procedure”. And also I was a bit older. If I’d been 12, I think it would’ve been a lot different but I was 16. Very naive 16 but … I thought this is what any doctor would do. So, from that point of view, I didn’t sort of go right down, down, down, down. Although it did have an effect on me.’

When Webb went back for a check-up a few years later Jannar sexually abused him one more time, under the guise of needing a sample for a sperm count.

‘What irks me more than that, now, is thinking of him in the hospital, watching the operation. That disturbs me. That’s just sick. He might have got a thrill out of that, who knows?’

Over the next few years Webb said he often thought about what Jannar had done. In his early 20s he told the story to a friend who was studying medicine. ‘He was shaking his head all the way through it saying, “That’s not standard procedure, mate. That guy was abusing you” …

‘He didn’t say “You should go straight to the Medical Board” or something like that ... But in other conversations he’d said “The medical profession looks after each other and you can get away with just about anything”. And so I thought “Well, what’s the point?”’

Webb said the abuse caused ‘a lot of sadness’ as he got older. ‘It was a significant part of my development as a man, growing into a confident man. Trust was a big issue for me, like, I didn’t trust partners. I didn’t get married till I was 47. And just feeling confident in the world. I felt shame, I guess, shame. If someone can do that to me, I’m not worth much.

‘Trauma is something that still affects me, traumatic responses to things. Whole body responses to things. I have to really be in my window of tolerance … like now I feel like I’m in my window of tolerance here. But, you know, approaching the windowsill, a little bit.’

In the early 2010s he read that Jannar had been convicted for child sex offences. A couple of years later, when more survivors came forward, Webb decided to contact the Royal Commission.

And when the Commissioner quoted a news story that said Jannar would be able to re-apply to practise as a doctor when he gets out of prison, Webb made a decision.

‘Why would he ever be allowed to practise again? That’s the thing of the old boys’ network, isn’t it?

‘If he’s going to apply for re-registration, if my story can stop that, then I do want to do it. I’ll prosecute.’

Webb was hopeful the Commission would bring change to healthcare. ‘Like, will medical students be told about, you know, “You can’t do this and you can’t …”? It seems obvious that that’s wrong, but the culture needs to change within the medical profession itself, doesn’t it? So, how is that going to happen? Hopefully from people like me coming in and telling them the story.

‘Because how else do we grow up as a nation?’

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