Who Knew What?

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Who Knew What?

Post by richardb » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:54 am

On the Old Blues group over on Facebook someone has posted this:

"Personally I find it quite disturbing that this was all common knowledge to staff and pupils at the time... "

That is quite a sweeping statement.

I was in Webb's boarding house for 3 years. We knew he was odd. We knew that he was interested in children from his tales of Perc The Curse. But I don't think any of - certainly not pupils anyway - knew that he was actually abusing people.

There is of course the diary entry where Husband's victim said that too many people knew about it so she decided to "go for it".

Until the time came when he was moved on, did people actually know about Husband?

And what of Dobbie and Karim? Did people know about either of them?

Staff should have known what was going on. If they DID know then it massively compounds the school's culpability.

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by DazedandConfused » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:23 am

I could never claim to be someone in the know, I was a full fee paying, rather naive girl from a small town who had a very cosseted upbringing and a huge trust in authority. With hindsight, I wasn’t completely unaware but was utterly naive about what I saw and heard.

There were rumours about Dobbie, but I believed they were just teenage sniggering at an eccentric teacher rather than anything sinister. I knew he made alcohol freely available to Seniors and I remember a Grecian in my house bragging she had been allowed the use of his flat to seduce a prospective boyfriend. OBs older and more worldly than I was at the time seem to have known a lot more.

I knew Karim had left under a cloud over questionable behaviour and we all found him creepy. As young teenagers we would never arrive alone to his lessons and always planned to get there in groups.

Husband’s affair came out very publicly but I knew of nothing else.

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by scrub » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:15 pm

I'd find it hard to believe that staff, especially ones who'd been there for a long time, would have been completely unaware. Even if they'd just heard rumours.

As for students, I guess it depends on how naive they were and how much contact they had with staff members outside of being taught by them. For me that would be quite, and very little.
I knew Karim's name and that he was a coach, but don't recall much more. Husband's affair and dismissal was widely known, but nothing else. As for Dobbie, I'm still trying to work out what I made of him. I remember he had his favourites, kids he'd give nicknames to and be all jokey with. Seemed mostly indifferent to others. At the time it didn't register with me, but looking at my memories through the eyes of an adult it's a red flag. The sort of thing that nowadays people pick up on quickly and pay a bit more attention to.
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by J.R. » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:47 pm

In line with something I posted on another thread regarding this distasteful subject, the above seems to prove to me that this type of activity must have started openly after the tenure of C.M.E. Seaman.
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by DazedandConfused » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:31 pm

scrub wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:15 pm
I remember he had his favourites, kids he'd give nicknames to and be all jokey with. Seemed mostly indifferent to others. At the time it didn't register with me, but looking at my memories through the eyes of an adult it's a red flag. The sort of thing that nowadays people pick up on quickly and pay a bit more attention to.
Very good point, that’s exactly how I remember him and it would absolutely be a red flag now.

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by sejintenej » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:49 am

DazedandConfused wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:31 pm
scrub wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:15 pm
I remember he had his favourites, kids he'd give nicknames to and be all jokey with. Seemed mostly indifferent to others. At the time it didn't register with me, but looking at my memories through the eyes of an adult it's a red flag. The sort of thing that nowadays people pick up on quickly and pay a bit more attention to.
Very good point, that’s exactly how I remember him and it would absolutely be a red flag now.
BUT J.R. and I and hundreds of other male OBs could name a teacher to whom that could validly be applied but who seemed totally straight. Mr Kirby has his own threads here and I haven't seen anything against him - a bitt different perhaps but not a danger.
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by DazedandConfused » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:02 am

A red flag doesn’t mean that wrongdoing is taking place, it means that the likely conditions for it are there. Of course not every teacher who has that relationship with pupils is going to be an abuser, but it’s likely an abuser would have that relationship with pupils.

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by sejintenej » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:30 am

DazedandConfused wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:02 am
A red flag doesn’t mean that wrongdoing is taking place, it means that the likely conditions for it are there. Of course not every teacher who has that relationship with pupils is going to be an abuser, but it’s likely an abuser would have that relationship with pupils.
True but if a red flag (of any description) exists then guilt is the first assumption
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by Avon » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:38 am

sejintenej wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:49 am
DazedandConfused wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:31 pm
scrub wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:15 pm
I remember he had his favourites, kids he'd give nicknames to and be all jokey with. Seemed mostly indifferent to others. At the time it didn't register with me, but looking at my memories through the eyes of an adult it's a red flag. The sort of thing that nowadays people pick up on quickly and pay a bit more attention to.
Very good point, that’s exactly how I remember him and it would absolutely be a red flag now.
BUT J.R. and I and hundreds of other male OBs could name a teacher to whom that could validly be applied but who seemed totally straight. Mr Kirby has his own threads here and I haven't seen anything against him - a bitt different perhaps but not a danger.
ISTR he had a habit of demonstrating bone structure by drawing the skeleton on a naked boy in class. What colour of flag would that be nowadays?

My point here is that tempores mutantur but some things are judgements on what is right and wrong and such things are timeless. Hence my ire for Poulton, Cairncross and Sillett who in the face of awful actions were awfully inactive.

By the way, Rocker Rae was also on the SMC at the time but was so aged as to be largely titular and probably ineffective...

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by J.R. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:53 pm

I would not consider Mr Kirby in this sort of class and if I had to nominate a flag colour, it would be white. I had a wonderful time with him going out into Sussex to collect bee swarms and I NEVER once felt uncomfortable or ill at ease in his presence.
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by bakunin » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:24 pm

I heard rumours about Dobbie but they were too unbelievable to me at the time, and all sorts of wild false rumours exist, so I ignored them. Besides, I wasn't really very well connected socially at CH to hear much gossip...

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by yossarian » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:01 am

From my perspective, it’s pretty hard to believe all this came as a surprise to other members of staff, even assuming they didn’t know about direct complaints to chaplains and housemasters and Poulton et al.

It is hard to imagine word of Dobbie’s dinners, with their alcohol and sex talk, never filtered out to staff members. In retrospect his innuendo-laden sermons, with the fixation on Adrian Mole, obviously seem less than wholesome. He would talk about how parents thought their boys in the choir trebles were “angels” but he knew better. In hindsight, he seems to have been skating on the edge of admitting something, winking at his audience, in a somewhat Savile-like way. He certainly didn’t take much trouble to appear anything other than cheerfully amoral.

When Husband disappeared, we in his GCSE history class received no official word on what had happened -- another testament to the school’s unwillingness to admit to anything. The rumours, however, stated that he had a habit of taking female students (tutees?) away for overnight trips. It was also suggested that he had been taken on at CH with the knowledge of similar activities in the past, and given a “second chance”. I obviously cannot vouch for the truth of these claims, but the implication was certainly that these things were widely known. Personally I only heard these things after his removal.

What I do directly recall is a bizarre comment he made to the entire history class. I don’t know the exact context, but he told us how being isolated teaching at a boys-only boarding school (I believe this was CH in the early 80s) he after a few weeks started to become attracted to boys. I remember him stressing, “I don’t want this used against me”. Thinking back, it’s surprising he got his way on that, because ordinarily such an admission would have led to nicknames and mockery -- the example of Hudson and his naturism comes to mind.

I have to assume, as in the general situation, that this kind of thing was just the tip of the iceberg. It seems naive to imagine there weren’t a lot more indications along these lines -- things that should have concerned a minimally interested member of staff. Certainly the general idea was in the air: Hudson was (rightly) assumed to be a paedophile by students and left after a markedly brief time at the school; the bandmaster ran off with a student; and so on.

When arrests of unnamed staff were announced, it took me just a few minutes to confirm the names Husband and Dobbie because the guesses were pretty obvious. Was anyone honestly surprised?
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by bakunin » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:11 am

Another thing I forgot to mention was Dobbie talking in religious studies class about how people get so ugly when they get older, and how we were so lucky to be so attractive and how it would all fade as we got older. Looking back it makes much more sense why he would say that.

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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by marty » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:31 am

yossarian wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:01 am

When Husband disappeared, we in his GCSE history class received no official word on what had happened -- another testament to the school’s unwillingness to admit to anything. The rumours, however, stated that he had a habit of taking female students (tutees?) away for overnight trips. It was also suggested that he had been taken on at CH with the knowledge of similar activities in the past, and given a “second chance”. I obviously cannot vouch for the truth of these claims, but the implication was certainly that these things were widely known. Personally I only heard these things after his removal.

What I do directly recall is a bizarre comment he made to the entire history class. I don’t know the exact context, but he told us how being isolated teaching at a boys-only boarding school (I believe this was CH in the early 80s) he after a few weeks started to become attracted to boys. I remember him stressing, “I don’t want this used against me”. Thinking back, it’s surprising he got his way on that, because ordinarily such an admission would have led to nicknames and mockery -- the example of Hudson and his naturism comes to mind.
We must have been in the same class! I seem to remember him vanishing about a week before our GCSE exam. I recall turning up to class to be greeted by another teacher - can't remember if it was Mundill, Askew or Thornton - to be told simply he wasn't coming back. No letter to parents. Nothing. If this happened today I'd imagine we'd have our grades tweaked in an upwards direction.

Don't remember the boys-only comment annoyingly.
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Re: Who Knew What?

Post by marty » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:34 am

bakunin wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:11 am
Another thing I forgot to mention was Dobbie talking in religious studies class about how people get so ugly when they get older, and how we were so lucky to be so attractive and how it would all fade as we got older. Looking back it makes much more sense why he would say that.
Dear me. Shame you didn't make the 20 year reunion in 2016 (although I can't see you making the long journey somehow :P ) - you could have asked Dobbie directly why he said this - he actually turned up!
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