Hobart school says sorry for sex abuseOn 01/31/2019 by admin
A man has told of the disgust and worthlessness he felt when a Hobart school where he was sexually abused as a boy, refused for decades to apologise.
Now aged 65 and identified only as AOA during a sex abuse royal commission hearing in Hobart, the man was a child victim of David Ralph Lawrence, the headmaster of The Hutchins School in the 1960s.
Mr Lawrence has since died.
“I was young and was not too sure about what was happening, but it was kind of pleasant and embarrassing at the same time,” AOA said in evidence on Wednesday of his abuse at the hands of Lawrence.
“At that time I had felt special, wanted and important. I needed affection.”
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that AOA reported Lawrence’s behaviour to the school, seeking an apology.
Despite repeated requests and a guarantee not to take further action against the school, he waited more than 20 years.
The apology was delivered in October, a month before Hutchins became the focus of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which started public hearings in the Tasmanian capital on Wednesday.
Successive boards at the school since the 1990s refused to apologise to AOA, arguing on one occasion that the claim of abuse could not be verified.
“I felt disgusted. I felt belittled and worthless to the school,” AOA said.
“I found this incredibly difficult in my road to recovery. I wanted acknowledgment and I felt I was ignored.”
During Wednesday’s hearing Neil Clelland QC, representing the school, said Hutchins now accepts members of staff were involved in the sexual abuse of students in the 1960s.
“An apology should have been provided to him at an earlier time,” Mr Clelland said of the case of AOA.
The letter of apology from the current Hutchins headmaster came too late for AOA.
“I feel f***ing insulted by it,” he said.
Four former students will give evidence of abuse at the hands of Lawrence and colleague Lydon Alfred Hickman during the eight-day hearing before commissioner Andrew Murray.
The inquiry will look at school’s response to reports of abuse and the role of the Anglican Church, which is linked to Hutchins and the appointment of some of its board members.