WARNING: Distressing content
The bullying horror a NSW student was subjected to while living in a boarding school dormitory has been revealed as a teenager charged over sexually assaulting him is sentenced.
The 15-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was only weeks into starting year 10 at the regional high school when he was abused by three other boys living in the same dormitory in March last year.
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One of the boys, known only as BP, pleaded guilty to two charges over the abuse and was sentenced to two community corrections orders in the District Court of NSW last month.
The offender, who was also 15 at the time they committed the offences, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and sexual act for production of child abuse material of child under 16 years.
On March 2022, while getting ready for a formal dinner, the victim had just showered and was wearing only his underwear and a towel when BP called him over to his area of the dorm, facts of the case state.
As the victim sat on the offender’s bed, a co-accused snatched his towel and pulled his underwear off, throwing both items out of the dorm into a common area.
The victim, having been rendered naked, retreated to his area of the dorm before being chased out into the common area by the boys, who were carrying leather belts.
The victim pleaded with the boys to leave him alone as threats were made to strike him with the belt.
The boys eventually returned to the dorm with the victim’s clothes and locked him outside.
The victim locked himself inside the shower area and returned to the room about 15 minutes later.
After the dinner, he showered again and sat on his bed to wind down before sleep.
At some point after, the two boys came over to his area and told him to bend over.
Fearing being assaulted, the victim complied.
The offender then directed another boy to sexually assault the boy with an object in the room, while he held the victim down.
At some point, a third boy came over to help the offender hold the victim down.
All three boys were laughing as the victim was being assaulted.
They returned to their side of the room after some time, leaving the victim in “shock and on the verge of crying”.
After a while, the victim went to bed but lay awake under his sheets.
About five to ten minutes later, the three boys returned to his area and demanded he get on his hands and knees.
One of the boys was holding a phone at the end of the bed, and was instructed by the offender to begin filming.
“Again the complainant was frightened of getting hurt by the co-accused and complied with the demand to get on his hands and knees,” Judge Sean Grant said in sentencing the offender.
The offender and the third boy then performed sexual acts on the victim, despite the victim telling them to stop, while the third boy filmed.
At one point, the victim tried to move out of position but was told by the offender: “Don’t move or I’ll beat you”.
After the boys returned to their areas, two videos were sent to a Snapchat group set up for the boys’ year group.
The victim saw the video had been sent as he was pacing the hallway outside the dorm following the assault.
The victim eventually returned to the room, where two of the three boys were sleeping.
After about 10 minutes, the victim took his pillow and hit one of the boys with it while he was asleep.
That boy then grabbed a belt and struck the victim.
The next morning, students from other dorms came to check on the victim as the videos continued to circulate on Snapchat.
Staff members eventually became aware of the videos and spoke to the victim.
The matter was then reported to police and two of the boys were suspended from school.
At sentencing, the crown submitted the offending was “cruel in nature” and “highly degrading”.
The court heard BP has no prior convictions, and his actions were described as “typical schoolboy behaviour that inadvertently escalated in severity”.
“I don’t know … it was pretty normal to hit each other with belts … we’re all just being d******** …and I think we just got carried away,” BP told a psychologist earlier this year.
“I regret it … I feel for it happening to him … we were all just being d******** and got carried away.”
The court heard BP had a broad spectrum of underlying social impairments and since leaving school has worked as a shearer.
His psychologist also submitted he would be “especially vulnerable to the negative influence of antisocial and criminal peers” if he were to go to prison.
Judge Grant said BP appears to be a “hard-working compassionate kid and the offences are out of character”.
“The offending was not for sexual gratification; it was bastardisation in the setting of a boarding school,” he said.
“The offender was a young, immature adolescent who behaved impulsively when he committed the offences. His immaturity was a significant contributing factor to his offending.
“His charging and swiftness of prosecution have been a wake up call to him,” he said, adding that BP had excellent prospects of rehabilitation.
BP was sentenced to two community corrections orders, for a duration of two and three years.
Judge Grant determined he “does not pose a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children” and ordered he not be listed as a registered sex offender.
The offences were instead recorded in his criminal history as domestic violence offences.
A two-year apprehended violence order was also made for the protection of the victim.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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