Rich is ‘bitter and twisted’ about life, psychiatrists and his introduction to illicit drugs by a paedophile teacher at one of Sydney’s prestigious boys’ schools.
‘It began just after my 15th birthday with what I remember as an invitation to visit my English teacher’s house with another schoolboy on the pretext of preparing for a school play.’
The teacher, Nigel Garfield, offered Rich hashish and alcohol then took him upstairs to his bedroom and tried unsuccessfully to penetrate him.
‘This occurred on a number of occasions because he was grooming me and convinced me that I was homosexual. So he would supply me with drugs but that was the only time he physically attempted penetration.
‘On other occasions it was masturbation or getting me to pose naked and take pictures ... he also, now that I reflect on it, engaged in classic grooming procedure with my parents, turning up there and having cups of tea and inveigling them into his web of paedophilia.’
Rich’s father did send a telegram to the school ‘saying he didn’t want me going to Mr Garfield’s house by myself’. There were apparently no rules about going alone to a teacher’s residence.
But his father’s request was circumvented by Rich accompanying another boy who was ‘actively homosexual so he wanted me to come along for protection and just chaperone’, Rich said. The boy was one of at least four he named who he said had been abused by Garfield.
‘Why I continued I have no idea. [Garfield] was an authority figure. I thought maybe he’d fail me. I don’t know. Maybe I thought I was homosexual. Maybe it was peer pressure. Maybe it was the excitement of drugs and alcohol at the age of 16 and meeting interesting people outside the boring old school thing …
‘I got inveigled into the whole system – the gay lifestyle – against my will’, he said.
‘I was drugged. Then when I protested that I didn’t want this and I had all these symptoms – which now on reflection were just simple anxiety and depression – Garfield referred me to a psychiatrist by the name of Roy Masterton.’
Masterton, ‘while always concerned and interested … just ended up supplying me with illicit and prescription medication and sexually assaulted me – again.’
This occurred numerous times, even after Rich had finished school. ‘I couldn’t get out of the trap.’
Rich continued his substance use for some years. He finally weaned himself off without professional intervention, although ‘the shame and guilt’ persisted.
Despite lower than expected marks when leaving school, he was still able enter the medical profession. With periods of psychiatric treatment and hospitalisation for depression and other conditions, Rich practised in both Australia and overseas, married, fathered children and is now alone – ‘I think it’s best for all’.
In 2003 Rich approached his old school but was merely offered ‘pastoral care, whatever that is, I still have no idea’. He believes this was because he was the first former student to come forward. Five years later, he tried again and this time was told that other students ‘had come forward and they were going to take it seriously with a view to compensation’. However, the school’s lawyer ‘got in and denied all responsibility’.
Rich is particularly aggrieved at his treatment by a state medical board and several psychiatrists. During one treatment session, Rich mentioned his childhood sexual abuse. The psychiatrist said ‘Well, let’s not worry about that’ and didn’t mention it in the professional notes.
‘Obviously you can see I am fairly bitter and twisted. It certainly doesn’t run in the family.’ He told his godfather of the abuse decades ago but was advised not to tell his parents. So Rich never did.
‘There wasn’t any point. Quite frankly it was very deep in the confines of whatever part of my brain keeps traumatic events in the past … I told my wife once and she freaked out. So I didn’t mention it to anyone after that anymore.’
Rich also formally requested that the Royal Commission ‘seriously consider looking at the medical profession’s responses to ‘institutionalised sexual abuse by psychiatrists – my experience and others I have talked to …
‘It’s abysmal. They don’t want to know about it. They don’t refer. They don’t act, they gloss over it, they hide it, they twist the truth, they misrepresent the truth.’
In his handful of psychiatric hospital admissions ‘not once was the issue of child sexual abuse raised in all the cognitive therapy I engaged in’.
This was despite Rich mentioning it to at least four psychiatrists over his years of treatment. Only two included it in their notes, one merely noting that at 15 ‘he was sexually molested by a teacher’. Another, Rich said, implied the abuse was his own fault with the notation ‘At age 17 he was seduced by his English teacher and his partner. They supplied him with drugs and he agreed to have sex’ – a summary he vehemently denies.
‘So’, Rich told the Commissioner, ‘the best the psychiatric medical institution could provide was a hmm, a grunt and a quick notation – sometimes – or, even worse, misrepresentation of what I said.’
Currently under psychiatric care and ‘stable’, Rich is hopeful that Royal Commission intervention with his stalled police complaint about Garfield will get further than he did.
He will also consider another attempt at compensation from his old school, whose lawyers thwarted his previous complaint on the grounds that the abuse did not occur on school premises.