Fettes survivor ‘damaged property’ after catalog of sexual abuse at Edinburgh institution
A former pupil who claims he was abused at Fettes Junior School has urged fellow survivors to speak out following a £400,000 settlement from the school’s board.
Speaking exclusively to Scotland Tonight, Frank (not his real name) said he was beaten and sexually abused by a teacher at the Edinburgh school.
The man attended Fettes Junior School and Fettes College as an external student in the 1970s and 1980s.
He claims he was targeted by the teacher when he was 12 because he was ‘more developed and hit puberty before a lot of other boys’.
“This particular teacher had a fuse in his head, which was spinning, it was turning red and it was getting incredibly violent. If you weren’t a victim of his abuse, that he had a thing for a certain type of boy, which I was one of,” he said.
He described the abuse as “escalating”, with the teacher becoming “more brazen when he realized you weren’t going to fuss”.
He remembers feeling isolated from other classmates because he was bullied.
“When you’re 12, you don’t really understand. I think it’s only when you reach the age of 15 or 16 that you can understand these concepts.
“I didn’t understand what was happening to me and what this particular teacher had done to me. And there’s this kind of horror and realization later in life of what happened to you.
“He’s an authority figure. So you just assumed they have that power. The power that teachers had in schools back then was incomprehensible compared to what it is today,” did he declare.
“Psychologically, I was not right”
The alleged abuse left Frank “psychologically unwell”.
“I don’t, and still do, I don’t like authority figures,” he said.
“Most people who know me know that I am a difficult person to employ. Because if someone tells me to do something I don’t agree with, I give up. As a result, I have been self-employed most of my life. It’s been a tough, tough road.
Frank has also given evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which was launched in 2015.
He described the experience as cathartic and hopes that by pursuing justice he will encourage others to come forward.
“I would recommend anyone who has been through this to face it. Because it is not your fault that you have been abandoned by these institutions and these adults.
“Living with this secret in your life is not a good thing. It’s damaging unconsciously. It helps if you talk about it. It’s part of the healing process.
Frank filed a civil lawsuit against the governors of the Fettes Trust, which runs the school, and his case was settled out of court.
Kim Leslie, a partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, led the lawsuit against the trust.
She said: “Frank’s strength in speaking out is matched only by his strength in bringing those responsible to justice.
“Many abuse cases have been raised against Fettes, but I believe Frank’s victory is the first publicly known to be successful. So I hope survivors can look forward to this outcome as they consider their own path to justice to get the damages and the recognition they deserve.”
A Fettes College spokesperson said the school issued a full and unqualified apology to “anyone who experienced abuse” at the school.
The spokesperson said: “Fettes leader Helen Harrison and representatives from the Board of Governors attended the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry every day to listen to all the evidence.
“It was a deeply moving experience and we applaud the bravery of everyone who shared their stories. These testimonies at the Inquiry, describing the abuse suffered, are now part of the school’s history and we must take advantage of it to listen, reflect and learn.
“Fettes is not thinking alone as this is an opportunity for the sector to strive to ensure that the voice of the child is at the heart of everything we do.
“Our industry-leading pastoral care ensures that all students and staff at Fettes College live together in a safe and secure environment. Protection is at the heart of everything we do and is an integral part of the school’s ethos. It is the duty of all staff members, throughout the Fettes community, to play an active role in supporting the welfare of all our students.
“Any safeguarding issues within the college are reported to the appropriate authorities and Fettes College is proactively adhering to and implementing all guidelines.
“This claim has now been resolved. We have always respected the anonymity of this victim and will continue to do so.