‘You stole my voice’: Former primary school teacher guilty of historical child sex abuse

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Almost every day, Ben* passes the mobile phone towers on a hill by the Western Ring Road that serve as a reminder of the place where he was abused.

It’s hard to miss, he says. The tip and horse paddocks may be long gone, and the landscape changed, but when he drives by he is immediately taken back to a small clearing, just out of sight beyond the tree line, where the tip once stood.

Former teacher Gary Bloom leaves the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday.Credit: Chris Hopkins

Ben says it recalls the day, as a 10-year-old boy, he believed he was going to be killed to keep his abuser’s secret.

“This is my experience. Today, I have a voice,” he told the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday.

While reading his victim impact statement, Ben faced his attacker, former Melbourne primary school teacher and swim coach Gary Bloom, for the first time in almost four decades, after the 58-year-old pleaded guilty to historical child sex abuse offences.

The court heard that in 1985, Bloom was working as a teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School in Diamond Creek, in Melbourne’s north-east, and as a swimming coach when he began visiting a paddock not far from the Western Ring Road that children were known to frequent.

Prosecutor Emma Fargher said Bloom visited the area almost every second day, and he regularly approached children and spoke to them, showing interest in what they were doing.

One day in 1985, he told Ben to follow him to an area on the other side of some thick trees, where Ben was abused.

Fargher said Bloom later followed the victim in the street and told him not to tell anyone what had happened. “Mr Bloom told the victim that he would find out if he told anyone and that he would get angry,” the prosecutor said.

The court heard Ben reported the abuse to police in 2019 and Bloom – by then living overseas – was charged and released on bail during a trip back to Australia in December 2021.

Bloom now lives in Scotland, where he runs a bed and breakfast with his wife, the court heard.

The case was due to head to trial, but Bloom later pleaded guilty to three charges of indecent assault, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

The County Court heard Bloom now lives in Aberdeen, in Scotland, where he runs a bed and breakfast with his wife.

He also works as a geologist with Shell on drilling expeditions, after relocating to Scotland from Melbourne in the 1990s.

Turning to face his abuser as he read out his victim impact statement, Ben said Bloom’s actions had affected his life and hurt him in ways that were more complex, more destructive and enduring than words could adequately explain.

Gary Bloom during his time as a school teacher.

“For years, I was deliberate to present a veneer of normalcy. I kept your secret hidden from almost everyone. I didn’t know how to reclaim my voice … so I stayed quiet. In those moments, you stole my voice, my sound, the air, my sense of self,” Ben said.

“In the weeks after you abused me, I attempted to suicide in the backyard of my dad’s house. It was a Saturday, my dad had gone to the shops, long enough, I thought. I felt sad, I felt shame. I thought that I was to blame. I was 10, I was a little boy, innocent.”

Bloom was ordered to return to court in October for sentencing. He remains on bail.

*Not his real name. Changed to protect the identity of a victim of child sexual abuse.

For support call Kidshelpline 1800 55 1800, Lifeline 131 114

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article