Gordonstoun has 'moral obligation' to help abuse victims ex-pupil says

Gordonstoun has a ‘moral obligation’ to help its abuse victims, says ex-pupil who was drugged and sexually assaulted by teacher in 1980s at prep school linked to Prince Charles’ alma mater

  • Gordonstoun should set up trust to help those who suffered abuse, ex-pupil says
  • John Findlay was drugged and sexually assaulted by a teacher at prep school
  • He says the boarding school needs to take responsibility for abuse he and others suffered at Aberlour House, a school which acts as junior school of Gordonstoun

The elite boarding school Gordonstoun should set up a trust to help those who suffered abuse, a former pupil who was drugged and sexually assaulted by a teacher at its preparatory school has said.

John Findlay says the school, which Prince Charles attended as a boy, needs to take responsibility for abuse he and others suffered at Aberlour House, a nearby school which acts as the junior school of Gordonstoun in Moray.

Mr Findlay, who has waived his right to anonymity, said he was assaulted in a dormitory at Aberlour in the 1980s when he was 12, with the teacher responsible later being dismissed.

However, Mr Findlay later discovered the teacher went on to find work in other schools in England and abroad.

Mr Findlay, 43, gave evidence at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry on Tuesday.

After his evidence session, he said he believed Gordonstoun should accept responsibility for the abuse he suffered at Aberlour.

John Findlay said he believed Gordonstoun should accept responsibility for the abuse he suffered at Aberlour

Lady Smith´s inquiry is examining elite boarding schools. Mr Findlay, who has waived his right to anonymity, said he was assaulted in a dormitory at Aberlour when he was 12, with the teacher responsible later being dismissed

He said: ‘Irrelevant of the legal obligation, they most definitely have a moral obligation.

‘Considering this is Gordonstoun, that teaches ”you have to be the right person and do the right thing”.

‘If they’re going to sit there and shirk their own morals, well they’re going to run up against people like me.’

He said Gordonstoun had stated Aberlour House was a separate legal entity when discussing who was responsible for historical abuse there. The schools are now merged.

Mr Findlay said: ‘Gordonstoun needs to accept fully what has happened and provide support fully.’

He said the abuse he suffered aged 12 continued to have a major impact on him.

‘It’s affected absolutely every element of my life,’ he said.

‘When you get abused like that, by somebody that you trust, it means you never trust anybody.

Senior members of the royal family have attended Gordonstoun, including Prince Charles 

‘It affects you personally, it affects your family life, it affects your friendships, it affects your life professionally.

‘Imagine your life without trust, trust is the basis for everything good in life.’

The teacher responsible for the alleged abuse, Derek Jones, is now dead.

Mr Findlay said he bore no animosity towards anyone currently teaching at Gordonstoun, but called on leaders there to make sure survivors of past abuse receive help.

He is due to meet the current principal of Gordonstoun, Lisa Kerr, to discuss the issue next month.

Earlier, Mr Findlay gave evidence to Lady Smith’s inquiry into child abuse at boarding schools and other institutions.

He said: ‘Both Aberlour and Gordonstoun are exceptional educational establishments, I walked away a far better, stronger individual.

‘The fact I can sit here today despite what happened to me is testament to the education I received.

‘It taught me to stand up for what’s right.’

Lady Smith´s inquiry is taking evidence from former pupils

He described the night a teacher came into his bedroom and sexually abused him, after he had asked for help with an injury.

The teacher gave him medicine before abusing him, with Mr Findlay saying he was ‘horrendously conscious’ but unable to stop the attack.

He later told his parents about the incident, who contacted Aberlour’s headmaster.

His parents were told the teacher would never work at a school again, he said, so they decided not to press charges.

Mr Findlay said: ‘I know my father and mother both regretted not pursuing police action.

‘With hindsight I’m disappointed that the police didn’t take action irrelevant of what the school thought or my parents thought.

‘It was their duty to take action.’

Mr Findlay said the teacher in question went on to teach again at a school in Essex before ‘leaving under a similar cloud’, later working at a school in Kenya.

After he spoke publicly about the abuse several years ago, another former pupil from his year group told him he had been abused by the same teacher in similar circumstances.

He said survivors of abuse, including himself, had struggled to access mental health treatment.

Mr Findlay told the inquiry: ‘I believe an institution such as Gordonstoun has the possibility of setting up a trust or something similar, whereby victims would be able to access treatment for mental health illnesses before having to go through prolonged civil action.’

The latest phase of the SCAI, being heard before Judge Lady Smith, is focusing on alleged abuse carried out in Scottish boarding schools.

Gordonstoun is famous for its links with the royal family, with both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh having attended.

The current principal of Gordonstoun, Ms Kerr, gave evidence to the inquiry in March and apologised on behalf of the school to those who had suffered abuse.

She said: ‘I’d like to offer a very sincere apology to anyone who has suffered abuse either at Gordonstoun or Aberlour House.’

Ms Kerr is due to give more evidence at the inquiry later this week.

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