Former students sue private Melbourne school Mentone Grammar over historic 1970s abuse allegations

Mr Whitcher, whose lawyers are to file a similar subpoena and who identified himself in the 1977 photo, said he was abused by a teacher after initially refusing to open his coat, and that he had recently spoke to another former classmate who recalled being physically dragged. from his tent to the line.

“It was [considered] a ritual passage for boys becoming men… ‘rise up and accept it’,” he said.

“They took it upon themselves out of arrogance, out of control, when the whole environment was isolated.”

Friends recall that about a dozen men – either teachers “dressed” in military attire or local church figures – were present during the alleged abuse, either directly involved or watching.

Afterwards, the friends recall, the boys felt betrayed and humiliated, but discussing the incident was “taboo” for the rest of the 10-day camp and when they returned home to their families.

“None of us wanted to talk about it because it was so shameful,” Mr Sheppard said.

“And I think they [the teachers] knew it too. We were young boys, and they did it just to sexually exploit us.

Mr Sheppard alleges he was also abused at cadet camps in 1978 and 1979 when he was 15 and 16 years old. He said he had experienced pangs of terror during the sleepless nights before each camp.

Mr Whitcher said he was so anxious before the 1978 camp that he asked if his friend’s sister, then a registered nurse, could help him.

“She didn’t ask why, maybe she was suspicious…she put a cast on my arm,” he said.

“It was the only exemption you could get to get out of the cadet camp. I was so relieved. I stopped wetting the bed, I was able to function. He obtained an exemption thanks to his sports skills to avoid the camp of 1979.

Mr Sheppard, a retired police officer, and Mr Whitcher, an ambulance paramedic educator, said they were prepared to recall their ordeals in court if necessary.

Shine’s attorneys said both men had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues directly related to the abuse.

Mr Sheppard said the ordeal changed him from a vivacious boy to a reserved and nervous teenager who became a sometimes bitter man who contemplated suicide.

“Someone needs to speak up” about what happened, he said, to respond to what his brief alleges was a failure in his former school’s care of its students.

Some camp teachers have since died, but Mr Whitcher said he finds it infuriating that the school honors these men for their careers.

“You think, ‘What the fuck’ knowing they were sexual predators…it got to me and I thought I couldn’t have this ebb and flow in my life all the time,” he said. -he says.

“It just ignited a flame inside me that hasn’t gone out. I want justice for that.

Mentone Grammar has yet to file a response in court and, in a statement, did not say whether she would contest the men’s claims. He declined a request for an interview.

Acting Principal Jarrod O’Neill said in the statement: ‘We abhor all past situations which have created any type of student abuse and wish to express our sincerest apologies for any historical failures.

“We stand ready to provide pastoral support, including counseling assistance, to any affected student.”

Mr O’Neill said the allegations were being investigated but it was inappropriate to comment further.

Sara Kaurin, senior abuse law partner at Shine, said Mr Sheppard and Mr Whitcher hoped the school would acknowledge the pain inflicted on them and other former students.

“Our clients have shown great courage in coming forward to seek compensation for the abuse they have suffered,” Ms Kaurin said.

“Since then, more and more former students have contacted us to speak out and seek compensation for themselves, which has only strengthened our clients’ resolve to seek justice for what happened. .

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Advice Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114 or Beyond Blue 1300 224,636.

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