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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



Hugh’s abusers told him ‘You can’t say anything, I have tremendous influence’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Hugh describes highly organised sexual abuse at the approved school he attended, involving staff and others from outside the institution, some of whom may have been in positions of senior authority.

He describes himself as a very bright child who was also ‘troublesome’. At the age of about 10, he appeared in juvenile court and was sent to an approved school.

Here, physical violence and sexual abuse was prevalent. He describes beatings by two members of staff, Mr Acton and Mr Wall.

He ran away on countless occasions and was always beaten again when he returned. He recalls one occasion when he was caught by the police and showed them his bruises and them told of the sexual abuse. The police response was that he must have deserved it and they took him back to the school.

Hugh describes how he and other children were physically and sexually abused by teachers and outsiders from the school, sometimes at parties run by Mr Acton.

The children did not know who their abusers were as they wore masks. He recounts that the abusers would come in to the dormitory at night and tap the end of the children’s beds to select them for abuse.

The children would have to make their way to the staff headquarters and if they didn’t, they were beaten by staff. This happened frequently, sometimes twice a week.

Hugh says that at the ‘parties’, Mr Acton would masturbate while watching children being sexually abused. Older children were made to strip naked and serve drinks.

He believes that some of the outsiders who attended were in positions of power. He recalls one of them saying ‘You can’t say anything, I have tremendous influence’.

He adds that a number of children disappeared from the school. He believes that three of the children who were abused ran away and were never found and Hugh has his suspicions of what happened to them.

He remembers that when children left the school they were told not to talk about the abuse.

Hugh never spoke to anyone about the abuse and channeled his anger through fighting.

Hugh believes that there may have been many victims of abuse in the school. The police have undertaken two investigations and to his knowledge only one person has been charged.

The abuse has impacted on Hugh’s relationship and, many years after the abuse, Hugh feels that he is still waiting for closure.

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