A FORMER school gardener who abused 13 boys over a period of almost two decades will likely spend the rest of his life in a West Australian prison, but one victim says time has not dulled the memories of what happened.
John Melverne Bodey, 78, has pleaded guilty to 57 offences committed against boys aged between 10 and 16, from 1970 to 1986, in the state’s north.
One man read out his victim impact statement in the WA District Court on Monday, describing the abuse as a confusing time.
“I trusted him and I remember wanting him to like me,” he said.
The victim spent years falsely believing he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Bodey and was going to die.
He said he had been a happy, adventurous and carefree child, but after the abuse became withdrawn and introverted.
His self-esteem was shattered and at one point he became homeless.
“I have missed so many opportunities in my life,” he said.
Another victim said the sound of a door creaking open still startled him awake about 50 years after the abuse.
Other common themes in the statements described substance abuse, mental health problems, relationship issues, and feelings of guilt and shame.
Bodey had also been involved in a local sporting group at the time.
The court heard he took some children fishing and camping, made them play strip poker and showed them pornography to normalise sexual behaviour.
Bodey told one boy the sexual activity was their secret, while another was told he would be Bodey’s “new lover”.
He told a third boy: “Come on, all the other kids do it.”
Prosecutor Michael Cvetkoski said Bodey committed a breach of trust in each case and preyed upon the boys for his own perverted sexual desires, resulting in lives being destroyed.
“He had no regard for the welfare of these children. He treated them like objects,” he said.
Judge Troy Sweeney will sentence Bodey on Thursday.
Civil action is separately being taken against the WA Education Department.
“The department was first made aware of this matter in 2017 when one civil claim was received,” executive director for professional standards and conduct Fiona Hunt said in a statement to AAP.
“As this is an ongoing claim, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”