A MAN who claims he was sexually abused at a West Yorkshire school is fighting for justice.
John Brooke, 32, has waived his right to anonymity to try to gather evidence about what happened in the early 1990s.
He hopes that by speaking out, other people will recognise him and come forward with information about the school and what happened. The school is not being named for legal reasons.
Police have previously investigated his claims. Specialist sex offence officers from West Yorkshire’s Operation Topaz unit investigated his claims but nobody was subsequently charged and the investigation has ended.
Mr Brooke, originally from Heckmondwike but now living in Huddersfield, had hoped he would not have to reveal his identity when he broke his decades-long silence and appealed for witnesses and other victims to come forward.
His quest is being backed by lawyers.
“As I can’t tell people which school I was at when I was abused, I’ve been left with no choice but to waive my right to anonymity in the hope that people will remember my name and what happened to me and others at this school in the early 1990s.
“My mother has muscular dystrophy and my father wasn’t around.
“I was suffering from emotional behavioural difficulties and she couldn’t cope with looking after me, so when I was nine I was placed in a specialist psychiatric unit for children with special needs.”
In 1991, Mr Brooke joined the specialist school in West Yorkshire.
“Whilst I was there I was sexually abused,” he said. “The abuse was regular and constant, and I’ve struggled to come to terms with it every day since.”
Mr Brooke said he was big for his age, and after a few months at the school he was placed in a dormitory with older boys because of his larger build. The room housed six children, most of whom were 14 and 15, while he was just 11.
“It began the first night I slept there. I’d fallen asleep and was woken in the middle of the night when I felt someone’s hand forcing my head down. I was terrified. They raped me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop them.”
He knew it was a strong, large male and believed it was a member of staff. “He must have abused me 20 times over the next few months,” he said. “It was always the same pattern – I’d fall asleep, and then in the middle of the night I’d be woken and raped.”
He also claims he was attacked by another person at the school and that staff did nothing despite his complaints.
“If I did complain, for all I knew I could have been talking to the person who was abusing me in the night.
He added: “I was entrusted to the care of that school. They were supposed to care for me, look after me, to watch over me. But instead, I was attacked relentlessly for two years.
“It has really messed up my life, and now that I’m starting to come to terms with it I feel bitter and angry that nobody did anything to help me.”
Mark Hatzer, a partner with Fentons Solicitors, is representing Mr Brooke.
He said: “Unfortunately as is so often the case in situations like this, the issues arising from his abuse made this young man even more vulnerable and he fell in with a bad crowd. The downward spiral led to a dependency on drugs and subsequently to petty crimes and a criminal record.
“He is working hard to turn his life around. He is currently studying Archaeology in order to obtain a degree from the Open University, and is undergoing regular counselling and therapy as he fights for his future.
“We hope that the bravery he has shown in breaking his silence – and even more so in waiving his right to remain anonymous – will inspire others who witnessed his abuse, or who might also have been subjected to it, to come forward and help him as he begins his fight for justice.”
Mr Hatzer urged anyone who remembered being at the specialist school with John Brooke, between 1991 and 1993, to come forward.
Contact Mark Hatzer in confidence at Fentons Solicitors LLP on 0844 854 3078.