Elite school ‘drawing out suffering’ of sex abuse survivors
A TSS survivor of physical and sexual abuse says the Gold Coast private boys' school has only added to his pain by delaying his compensation.
The Bulletin last week revealed The Southport School had admitted to paying compensation to 11 sex abuse survivors - and at least 18 former old boys were seeking compensation.
A former TSS student, aged in his 50s, who read the report, told the Bulletin: "There is no way TSS is supporting me and statements to the contrary are infuriating.
"This so-called prestigious school is fighting every step of the way, doing things to stall my claim.
"I'm lucky to still be here. The mental, physical and sexual abuse that I suffered at TSS has driven me to contemplate suicide on several occasions."
Leanne McDonald, Shine Lawyers national practice manager for abuse law, described the school's response to men who were sexually abused as students by several teachers in the late 1970s, 80s and 90s as "appalling".
"The school has recently stated in the media that $3.3 million has been allocated to compensate abuse survivors. This figure is well off the mark given the amount of clients we represent and the damage that has been caused to their lives," Ms McDonald said.
"The abuse ranged in severity and a lot of the opportunistic incidents took place within the boarding dorms but were not limited to that area of the school.
"We've had to begin court proceedings for four of these sexual abuse cases against TSS because the school has failed to recognise the devastating toll this abuse has had on our clients.
"In some cases legal disclosure documents that are required to be produced by the school have been held back, meaning we can't get court dates set down which only adds to our client's pain and suffering.
"These men have had to live their lives dealing with the trauma that comes after being violated at such a vulnerable age, yet TSS continues to draw out their pain and suffering. Our clients deserve to be acknowledged and fairly compensated."
A TSS spokeswoman said the school would not be "drawn into discussion of these matters in the media".
"TSS acknowledges that it has received claims of past sexual abuse and encourages those who have suffered sexual abuse at the school to come forward," a spokeswoman said.
"However, the claim process is complex and confidential and the parties involved are entitled to have their privacy respected."
The former TSS student claims two men attacked him on different occasions, and after reporting the abuse to another teacher, nothing was done.
"I have flashbacks, I hate myself for not fighting to get away, I've gone through life not wanting to even be touched. How dare this school now put me through even more by failing to acknowledge this," he said.
"The violation of my body as a young boy changed me completely. It has ruined my life. I started drinking way too young to suppress what had happened to me and I've abused alcohol and or drugs to escape these thoughts ever since.
"Coming forward was hard enough, but the tactics TSS is using to avoid compensating victims has reopened my wounds these past couple of years. The closure that I need has in fact resulted in further pain, it has been a nightmare watching the school put up such a fight.
"I didn't know when I started legal action that one of the men who sexually abused me had used his power on many occasions to do similar disgusting sexual acts to other boys. I only found this out recently.
"If I was a high-profile person I have no doubt they would have settled my compensation claim and more importantly provided me with the acknowledgment I deserve and need as a grown man who has struggled to sleep every single night of my life since."
Originally published as Elite school 'drawing out pain and suffering' of sex abuse survivors