Case Study 1

Brandon was the youngest of five children. His mum experienced significant mental health issues and his father worked long hours and was often overseas for work. Brandon struggled at school. As a quiet and shy boy he had few friends, and was often alone whilst other kids played in groups. The only time Brandon seemed happy was when he was playing sport.

Mr Peters was one of the sport teachers at school and he also coached basketball on the weekend. Brandon really wanted to play basketball on the weekend but was not able to as his mum said she could not take him.

Mr Peters started to spend time at lunch playing basketball with Brandon and spent extra time with him in class. Some of the other kids made comments about Brandon being Mr Peters' favourite student and another teacher raised concerns with the school principal that she felt that Brandon got special treatment. The school principal reassured her that Mr Peters was just supporting Brandon like he would any other student.

After a while, Mr Peters contacted Brandon’s mum and offered to take him to basketball coaching on a weekend. He explained that he thought Brandon had “real talent” at Basketball and he understood things were difficult for the family. Brandon’s mum queried whether teachers were allowed to spend time alone with kids away from school. Mr Peters explained there were no rules about it and that he enjoyed supporting his students.

Mr Peters would take him out for food after coaching. He started showing Brandon funny videos on his phone. Brandon liked that he got to go to basketball, but over time he started to feel a bit uncomfortable. The kids at school teased him for spending time with his teacher, and Mr Peters had started showing him videos that were sexual and would touch him when they were watching them. Brandon tried to tell his mum, but she said Mr Peters was just being friendly and trying to help him out, and that he was not doing anything wrong as the school would not let him teach if there was “anything wrong with him”.

Mr Peters went on to sexually abuse Brandon for three years, until another older boy came forward and reported that he had abused him when he was at the school. A police investigation found that allegations had been made at Mr Peters' two previous schools but that Mr Peters had left each school shortly after and police were not involved. Brandon’s school and the local basketball league had not done reference checks prior to employing Mr Peters.