A VICTIM of boarding school abuse has told how he was caned and molested after he forgot to take his keys out of his trousers.
The man, from Huddersfield, is the latest to speak out about the trauma he suffered at William Henry Smith School in Rastrick.
He recalled how headteacher Peter Beall punished him for an oversight on laundry day.
The 56-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “All the boys had to make sure their trouser pockets were empty of anything that would cause damage.
“Peter Beall came into the dining room waving these keys around that were mine.
“Straight away I knew I was in trouble.
“He took me into his office and he caned me six times. You had to wear these silk shorts because that meant it hurt more.
“Then he would pull you onto his lap. That was his way of saying that he was comforting you, but his hands would start to wander.”
About 20 former pupils of the school – set up for boys with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties – have launched a bid for compensation over claims they suffered abuse at the hands of Beall.
They intend to sue the school governors and the trustees of the Smith Foundation – the charity behind the school.
The Huddersfield man was at the school, on Boothroyd Lane, from 1967 to 1970 after a troubling childhood relationship with his parents.
He said the school day was structured much like that of any other school.
“On the face of it, the school was normal, but there was this sinister undercurrent,” he said.
Beall’s abuse was not confined to the privacy of his office.
The man said: “He also had this habit of touching you as he walked past you in the corridor and there was this thing he would do which he called chin pie – rubbing his chin right up your cheek and heavy breathing.
“I knew it was wrong, but who’s going to believe a child with emotional problems over a headteacher when something like that happens?”
He said he had suffered a loss of confidence and low self-esteem as a result of his time at the school.
He had his first serious girlfriend when he was 21 and married at 30 and had a child, but his marriage fell apart after two years.
The man said he had never spoken of his ordeal, but wanted to confront his demons after reading about the experiences of others.
“When you are living with something like that it leaves you twisted,” he said.
“Bottling any problem up is not good for anyone. I could never talk to anyone about it, not even my wife. But maybe I can now get closure.”
As reported in April, lawyers for a 47-year-old man have filed a writ in the High Court alleging Beall “emotionally, sexually and physically abused and assaulted him between October, 1976, and July, 1979”.
In an unrelated criminal investigation, West Yorkshire Police arrested five people over allegations of sexual and physical abuse stretching back many years. The four men and one woman are on bail.
Alan Collins, a solicitor for Hampshire-based firm Verisona, is representing many of the group in the civil case.
He said: “The police investigation is ongoing.
“I do not anticipate hearing anything from the police until September.
“The civil case will not pick up speed until the police case has been concluded.”