After School Detention

Back in August 2017 I wrote a post about a teacher in my old school who’d been jailed for sexually abusing boys when he was at previous schools. I didn’t link to the original news story or name the guy because I didn’t want my old school associated with him on the basis of my blog post. However, I can now say his name is Jonathan O’Brien and the story of his conviction is here. I am able to do so because of this new report:

A former teacher from Bosham has been jailed after being found guilty of indecent assault on a teenager.

Jonathan O’Brien, 61, was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Friday (24 May) having pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault in the 90’s when he worked at a West Sussex college.

PC Yvonne Daddow said: “This offending came to light when the victim contacted us for the first time in 2017. Having courageously come forward he supported our investigation and was ready to give evidence in court if necessary.

“It became clear that O’Brien had used an allegedly mutual interest in computers to in effect gradually ‘groom’ the boy into sexual activity, in O’Brien’s study at the school and his home in Oxfordshire. The boy kept the distressing experiences to himself for more than 20 years until an chance family discussion to some media coverage on the general subject of sexual offending triggered him into coming forward.”

I learned about this because my school sent a letter out to its former pupils informing us. This happened while I was at the school, and I have a good idea who the boy was. I have an even better idea of which other boys he may have been eyeing up for similar treatment, which earned him a reputation of a wrong ‘un among the pupils and at least one or two of the staff. I’m glad the boy in question came forward, and it’s a shame we were all a couple of years too young to have sorted O’Brien out ourselves. I hope the boy – now a man – feels a bit better now.

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29 thoughts on “After School Detention

  1. When I was at secondary school, my friend’s younger sister – aged, I think, 13 – had attracted unwelcome and upsetting hands-on attention from one of the teachers, a man in his thirties. I remember the commotion the following afternoon as said friend’s father gave the teacher in question a vigorous beating in front of his class. The teacher in question was never seen again. At least not by us.

    It’s probably wise to bear in mind that those inclined to molesting youngsters will be drawn to professions that afford opportunities. Education and social work being obvious examples. And there are some who are keen to invite the fox into the hen house, as it were.

  2. Got to admit I feel very conflicted about stories like this. After 20 years, how does someone prove his innocence, if he is innocent? There is a reason for the Statute of Limitations. And with the legal system as it is today, the pressures on someone to cop an unwarranted plea may be intense.

    But let’s take the punter’s guilty plea as a given. What about the guilt of all the others (fellow students, teachers, parents, neighbors) who suspected or knew — 20 years ago — that something was amiss, and did nothing? Shades of the media’s pursuit of Jimmy Saville once he was safely dead! There were many people who knew at the time what Saville was doing with young children — and stayed silent. Why were they not punished, at least in the court of public opinion if not in a court of law?

    It is sad that some man approaching middle age wasted the last 20 years of his life fretting over what happened long ago before “courageously” coming forward. But going forward, it is even more sad that many other teachers are going to see the writing on the wall and cease having any one-on-one mentoring with their students — the kind of mentoring which has benefitted countless students in the past.

    This is analogous to what has happened in business, where many of us now will avoid road trips with female or homosexual co-workers. Personally better safe than sorry — but it hurts the business.

  3. Fifty years ago pederasty was OK if it was done in Latin. Then Latin was dropped from the curriculum.

  4. I’m very torn about these stories. So much depends on the details. Was the abuse near or actual rape, or a hand on the knee? And why the inordinate delay in making a complaint? But of course anyone making an allegation is automatically regarded as stunning and brave these days.

  5. I’m very torn about these stories. So much depends on the details. Was the abuse near or actual rape, or a hand on the knee?

    It wasn’t some innocent hand on the knee, mate. Put it this way, you’d not have wanted your son alone in a room with this bloke.

  6. Got to admit I feel very conflicted about stories like this.

    I usually am but given this happened in my school, I knew the teacher and the boy, and remember quite a bit of the circumstances surrounding it, I’m not feeling very conflicted at all.

  7. Put it this way, you’d not have wanted your son alone in a room with this bloke.
    Well then, I’d not have wanted to sit on it for 20 years either.

  8. Well then, I’d not have wanted to sit on it for 20 years either.

    This is hopelessly simplistic. The reason why child sexual abuse is so abhorrent is because the child doesn’t fully comprehend what’s happening. They don’t see it as abuse, and the adult both tells them it’s normal and doesn’t go so far as to trigger the child into thinking it’s abuse. There are several recent examples of this: the two men who came forward to describe their abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson in the documentary Finding Neverland and Milo in his recent interview with Jordan Peterson. All of them said they were highly conflicted, even as adults, as to whether it was abuse whereas most adults would look at what took place and say “of course it was abuse, blatantly so”.

    So it is very common for children to have been genuinely abused and not quite realised it. I’ve known a handful of abuse victims – genuine ones – and their coping mechanisms can strike one as being odd to say the least. Unfortunately, this ambiguity leads people to invent stories about their being abused for attention and money and one is never sure who is telling the truth and who is making it up. But given this particular incident happened at my school while I was there to a boy I knew and we heard stuff at the time, I’m inclined to believe him.

  9. “… we heard stuff at the time …”

    That is part of what leaves me feeling very conflicted. In the field of Emergency Medicine, there is a concept called “Duty to Respond”. In business these days, we get annual questionnaires seeking positive confirmation that we personally have not done anything contrary to company policies — and requiring us to report anything irregular we may be aware of about anyone else in the company, even though it is only hearsay.

    At what point does suspecting something may be off and remaining silent make each of us into “unindicted co-conspirators”? This is a very difficult area.

    None of us support child abuse. Lots of us support one-on-one mentoring of students. We need to find a way to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater — otherwise the big losers from this adult’s “courageous” action will be a generation of students who are shut out from the kind of one-on-one adult advice & help that could really improve their lives.

  10. @David Thompson,

    The problem is that those suspicions have gone so far that now our infant and junior schools are lacking male role models, and we can see where that’s led. Its also become a problem for organisations like the Scouts who can’t get enough male role models.

    Ref PIE, yes they were a nasty organisation but there is another side to that coin. There’s a very moving This American Life program (I think it was, but can’t find it so may have been another podcast) about a young man who, when he was growing, up realised something was wrong and that he still had a liking for very young girls. He plucked up courage to talk to his mother who took him to a psychiatrist and when he told his story to her he said she physically recoiled and said nothing could be done and that she wanted nothing to do with him.

    In the end he set up a secret self help group with the rule that nobody could act on their impulses. This is a real problem and we owe it to children and those sufferers to provide them medical support, and that doesn’t mean mandatory castration, physical or chemical.

  11. Similar thing happened at my church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with a youth group leader back in the 70’s. He was quite well liked by parents and us kids. He ran our summer camp. Would take polaroids of us boys in the showers, insisting that they were only waste up pics. We were 3rd, 4th, 5th grade. Creeped me out such that I only took two showers all week. The rest of the guys seemed ok with it. Then a couple years later he was caught or something. Anyway they told him to leave and never come back. This is where it gets really weird with coincidences. I’m in college in Gainesville, FL and happen to be passing through the room when a minor local news story out of, I think Jacksonville comes on the TV about this guy, I recognize the name, and see him being led into court. It was definitely him. I was stunned. Fast forward now 6-7 years or so, I’m a professional working in Orlando and see on the evening news this same guy caught again, this time in Daytona. Pisses me off. I call the DA to make sure that they understand how long this shit was going on. They ask me to come in and see if I can identify any of the boys in his kiddie porn collection. Of course at this point it’s been 15-20 years but sure enough, I see some of those shower photos. Such an awkward thing to do also, given that it was a woman showing me the pics, trying to put her thumb over my long lost friends’ privates. Anyway, don’t know if I helped much with that or not as I was only able to identify by name kids who I later learned had not been molested by this guy. But that I think was the end of him. Since the internet I’ve tried to google him a few times and what little I can find was of him old and in prison.

  12. Just googled him again, here’s the news story. Apparently both tv news stories that I saw were out of Daytona, not Jax…

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1991-05-11-9105110563-story.html

    Oh, and another weird coincidence…when I worked at the Space Center right after college 84-89, I had a boss who, only in the last 10 years or so, I learned through former coworkers that his son had killed himself. They lived in Daytona. In the discussion it came out that his son had been molested at a school back in the 80’s.

  13. I’ve known a handful of abuse victims – genuine ones – and their coping mechanisms can strike one as being odd to say the least.

    @Gavin
    Since David has already showed up, I’ll get on my usual hobby horse and point out that protracted sexual abuse in childhood that is covered up and/or suppressed into adulthood is the defining etiology for BPD/Complex PTSD/the Cluster B personality disorders, which are severe lifelong dysfunctions as a result of what amounts to permanent brain damage. They’re (arguably) uncurable, and condemn the sufferer to a lifetime of misery and an astronomical increase in the likelihood of death by suicide.

    Putting “courageous” in quotes and what-aboutting the poor teachers who can’t give one-on-one mentoring any more makes you a monstrously insensitive ass.

  14. young man who, when he was growing, up realised something was wrong and that he still had a liking for very young girls.

    I have ‘a liking’ for Kylie Minogue. She is never going to agree to consensual sex with me, therefore the only way for me to indulge my liking is rape.

    The same applies to nonces. Just don’t do it. Their attraction to young girls is a preference, as is my attraction to Kylie, not an orientation.

    Treating paedophilia as an illness or a sexual orientation, rather than a perversion, is the first step towards tolerating it.

  15. @Daniel Ream,

    This raises an interesting conundrum;

    “protracted sexual abuse in childhood that is covered up and/or suppressed into adulthood is the defining etiology for BPD/Complex PTSD/the Cluster B personality disorders, which are severe lifelong dysfunctions as a result of what amounts to permanent brain damage”

    I’ve met a few folks who are bipolar and a couple of (I assume) undiagnosed sociopaths. They were hugely destructive to those around them.

    Should we as society feel sympathy for them or condemn them for their actions?

    By the way, for any young men out there who want to live dangerously; bipolar girls are brilliant fun….for a while. You need a clean exit plan though, like long term emigration and breaking of all social contact with anyone you know they ever met.

  16. “I hope the boy – now a man – feels a bit better now.”

    He won’t.

  17. The problem is that those suspicions have gone so far that now our infant and junior schools are lacking male role models, and we can see where that’s led.

    That’s a fair point, and not a trivial one. And as Instapundit notes, repeatedly, it’s not just men violating their positions of trust.

    we owe it to… those sufferers to provide them medical support, and that doesn’t mean mandatory castration, physical or chemical.

    I’m not sure what kind of medical support is possible, short of libido suppressants.

  18. On the strength of your there-at-the-time account Tim I will accept this one as real.

    However–thanks to the influence of Marxist feminist scum –no area is more open to abuse (of abuse so to speak) than such accusations.

    Marxist feminist scum–including dear Treason May and her creature Saunders of the CPS kicked off a firestorm of Yewtree bullshit on the back of the Savile capers. Which Saunders then used to roust various likely innocent slebs and then to set up hundreds of ordinary blokes–until Treason moved on to full out treason and hubris brought Saunders low (not low enough) when she tried to withhold evidence and send a slew of innocent men to jail for rape. Not to mention cop computer capers trying to make some blokes out as having clicked on child porn links when they had not.

    As for Savile I contend that in 25 years when the emotional hysteria has long faded he will be exonerated. Start to look at individual cases and they rapidly fall apart. There are a vast number–in itself suspicious meta-data–and lots are not provable one way or the other. But many of those are inherently unlikely–such as the Leeds infirmary report of a woman saying she accepted lifts home off Savile in his campervan on FOUR successive Fridays and was raped each time–but didn’t tell the police cos he was a sleb etc, Sorry but while I can’t disprove it nor can she prove it ( the marx-fem “investigators” despise facts and white male patriarchal evidence so they didn’t even try) and I simply don’t believe it. Nor believe any other sane rational person would either.

    And on the there-at-the-time theme the late Anna Racoon left testimony that the alleged 1960s and early 70s Dunholme (sic-) capers never happened. The girls in what was a low key approved-type school were supposed to have spent nights screaming behind locked doors while Savile prowled the corridors like Michael Myers save armed with a penis rather than a butcher’s knife. None of which ever happened as Savile was nowhere near the place until being invited for a very sedate sleb visit in 1974.

    While I accept the account you give Tim on your testimony–these capers have been weaponised by marx-fem scum and NOT ONE should ever be accepted at face value.

  19. There is a reason for the Statute of Limitations.

    Statute of limitations for adult perpetrators on adult victims of such crimes, yes. But when children are involved, the truth may not come out until years after a certain number of children have already been victims. The accused has a right to defend themselves but adult victims of crimes committed on them when they were children are entitled to justice. And society as a whole is entitled to have such scum removed from society in such a way that they can no longer do harm to innocent children.

  20. Daniel Ream cast aspersions: “Putting “courageous” in quotes and what-aboutting the poor teachers who can’t give one-on-one mentoring any more makes you a monstrously insensitive ass.”

    Maybe it does — I have been called worse. Or maybe it shows that you are not reading carefully, Daniel — which often happens when we are too emotionally involved in a topic to see the forest for the trees.

    Careful reading would show that my concern was not for the poor teachers; it was for the hundreds of thousands of poor students whose lives will be diminished because one-on-one mentoring is clearly going to become too risky for any adult, no matter how normal and ethical his behavior. We need to find a way to achieve the good aim of protecting young people from predators without also doing the major harm of preventing mentoring.

    Since you are not a monstrously insensitive ass, Daniel, spare some consideration for that huge number of children who are going to be missing out on adult guidance, thanks to that “courageous” man. It is the real world, Daniel — everything we do from the best of intentions carries costs as well as benefits. Just as one example, the sincere people who wanted to save bird life by banning DDT condemned literally millions of young African children to die from mosquito-borne diseases. This is a hard world, Daniel, with difficult trade-offs; be constructive.

  21. Gavin mentions “Duty to Respond.”
    In my area (CA USA) there is a statutory thing called “Mandatory Reporter”. Briefly this designates and requires certain professionals to report evidence of child abuse to the relevant agency. (E.g pediatricians, primary & secondary school teachers, etc.)
    So. When my kid was 7 or 8 he occasionally hid from stressful school situations by concealing himself in the boy’s restroom. This eventually led to a conversation between me and a school counselor. (a private school, in the US sense).
    During this conversation I demonstrated how I sometimes regained my son’s attention during home disciplinary chats, by tapping him on the cheek with two fingers. I demonstrated this on myself. This action was a TAP, not in any sense an injury risk. (In practice I did this maybe a half-dozen times over 4 years.)
    No particular reaction from the counselor at the time, but…
    The next day I receive a phone call from a nice lady at Child Protective Services, who is inquiring about a report she just received, from that same counselor, about “potential child abuse”. She hears my story, tells me that it matches the story from the counselor, and says no actions will be taken.
    OK, right?
    Except of course, now my name is on file at that county’s CPS as a reported potential child abuser. Imagine how that affected my willingness to be e.g. a classroom volunteer for the next couple of decades.
    Good intentions from the legislators, plus a natural desire to CYA on the part of the counselor, led to this state of affairs.

  22. It’s tough. 35-40 years ago …. My male GP when I was 10-15 was a very good doctor… locked up for child porn offences. Also at that time a female maths teacher at my secondary school, and one of the two who ran the computing club, which I attended for years and was all RM and zx81s back then, murdered the wife and two kids of the other teacher.

    I am not sure the trauma from an abuse of position and trust for sexual purposes is the same as the trauma the male maths teacher felt on going home that fateful afternoon. Society, through the media mostly, is in danger of fetishising trauma and marking everything as tragedy.

    It sells papers or gets viewers in the short term but ( feel it may have reduced our individual resilience and that of society as a whole. Trauma inflation if you will, has led to people becaming sceptical in the long run.

  23. “There were many people who knew at the time what Saville was doing with young children — and stayed silent.”

    No, there weren’t. The whole thing was the most incredible load of bollocks. It was a moral panic that worked because Savile was a weirdo, he was really out of fashion, there were photos of him with Thatcher suggesting he had friends in high places, which allowed for it to become like a satanic abuse case.

    The late, splendid Anna Raccoon was at the school where the original accusers claimed they were abused, and she took the whole thing apart

    https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster75/lob75-anna-raccoon.pdf

    Do you really think that a man who abused ONE THOUSAND children (government enquiry findings) on BBC premises would have gotten away with it? Kids often don’t want to come forward, but do you think not even 1 out of ONE THOUSAND wouldn’t? That no adults would have gone to the police, or even posted a letter to the police on their deathbed?

  24. spare some consideration for that huge number of children who are going to be missing out on adult guidance, thanks to that “courageous” man.

    Yeah, I’m not changing my original opinion of your character based on your continuing to dig yourself deeper.

  25. People say “why didn’t the victims come forward earlier? Why wait 20 years?”
    I ask the question – if you were abused would you come forward? Many years ago I worked with a guy who had been abused by a scoutmaster. It was never discussed openly but it was whispered – that guy there was buggered by a scoutmaster….. snigger.
    People are cruel and if you tell the truth of what happened there will be a stigma attached to you, even though it is not your fault. If I had been abused as a kid I would find it very difficult to come forward for precisely this reason.

  26. I went to a secondary school (now demolished) where the deputy head abused children for 20 years. It was widely rumoured amongst all the kids that he was a weirdo. Graffiti around school told the same story that “Nipper” was a pervert.
    Nothing was done. Finally one day a kid came into class and shouted out that Nipper had abused him in his office and the science teacher (who was new to the school) immediately phoned the police. Nipper was asked to leave and the scandal blew over (sort of).
    So here is an example of a pervert deputy head who abused numerous children over a 20 year period, was never reported, was the subject of endless rumours and innuendo, but it took the actions of a new teacher at the school to highlight what was going on. How could this happen? Even today on Facebook school websites no one mentions anything. The odd commenter states Nipper was a weirdo. Only once has the abuse been mentioned – a commenter asked how could this man have gotten away with doing what he did for 20 years why did no one blow the whistle?
    This comment basically shutdown the Facebook page.

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