A TEACHER and Scouts leader who sexually abused boys under the age of 13 in Inglewood and Myrtleford in the 1960s has pleaded guilty to multiple charges in court.
Guy Fontaine Featherstone, 77, made his guilty plea in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday in front of three of his abuse victims, who were present in the court.
He abused two boys while working as a teacher and Scouts leader in Myrtleford, and two while teaching at the Inglewood Higher Elementary School.
Featherstone listened while victim impact statements were read aloud, outlining more than 50 years of mental anguish for each of the victims.
One of the victims read his own statement, telling Featherstone that his offending left him “lost in a world I hated with a passion”.
Featherstone will be sentenced next week, but is unlikely to be sent to jail due to his frail state and poor social development at the time.
Offending in Inglewood left lifetimes of pain in its wake
“I was no longer a victim. Now for the first time, I was told I was a survivor.”
One of the victims of paedophile Inglewood teacher Guy Fontaine Featherstone never told anyone about the abuse he experienced in the 1960s.
Instead, the abuse manifested itself into mental torment that he took out on loved ones – people who never understood why he acted out in this way for decades.
He considered himself as just a victim. He hated the world for the injustice it had wrought upon him.
After seven suicide attempts, it was the look of anguish on his wife’s face that told him he needed to do something.
A counsellor had an answer for the man: He was not a victim – he was a survivor.
“As a survivor I’ve had success – and failures – but I survive,” he said.
“I go through life with the normal ups and downs, but now I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. A survivor of evil.
“Soon I’ll be free of the invisible shackles that held me for so long. A survivor of a paedophile.”
The man read his story to the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday when Featherstone, 77, pleaded guilty to four counts of committing an indecent act against a child under 16.
He pleaded guilty to offending against four boys, aged 11 to 13, in the 1960s.
Featherstone committed the offences on two boys during his time as a Scouts leader and teacher in Myrtleford, and two boys while working as a teacher in Inglewood.
Featherstone, at the time a teaching graduate in his early 20s from Melbourne, took on the leadership of the Myrtleford Scouts.
He was assisting his first known victim, aged 11 or 12, to chop tree saplings on a Scouts camp when he started to sexually abuse him. Featherstone told the child: “You keep this quiet when you go back”.
Featherstone also abused the child while on a bus after a Scouts outing. Other children were close by.
The man told the court in a statement that, as a child, he had blamed himself for being abused by the teacher.
“For some five or six years following, I believed it must have been something I had done to trigger the events,” he wrote.
“He appears to have no empathy for his victims.
“It was his role to have that influence on young boys, but he let us all down. He has left many others with a lifetime of constant personal battle to overcome.”
The second boy abused by Featherstone in Myrtleford, aged in his early teens, suffered the abuse while away on a Scouts camp.
He told the court that he hoped Featherstone could accept responsibility for his actions.
Featherstone was transferred to Inglewood Higher Elementary School the following year.
He abused another child on three separate occasions in the Inglewood Town Hall.
While reading his statement personally to the court, the man detailed the mental anguish he had suffered throughout his life as a result of the abuse by Featherstone.
“I wanted back my childhood innocence. I never had the chance to grow up with joy and wonder and awe and passion,” he told the court.
“I never lose my innocence, it was stolen and destroyed by a paedophile, and my life would never ever again be the same.
“I’ve agreed to tell my story – but not just for me. It’s too late for me. I do it for the next generation, in the hope we can now put the spotlight on paedophiles – to seek justice and above all make the next generations free of the evils of paedophiles.
“We all owe it to them.”
The fourth victim was abused while Featherstone was camping with a number of the school children near Inglewood.
He told the court he now found it hard to “show love, trust or affection”.
“Since the day Guy Featherstone sexually assaulted me, a part of my soul was damaged forever,” he said.
“I often think about my former young student mates who were also victims and how this must have impacted them too.”
Three of the people abused by Featherstone attended court on Wednesday.
Defence counsel George Georgiou said Featherstone had been abused by a relative as a young child, and had been involved in similar abuse as a teenage boy.
Mr Georgiou said Featherstone had carried these attitudes towards sex into his early adulthood, and then into his teaching career.
Featherstone left Inglewood in the mid-1960s and took up a teaching position at Kew High School in Melbourne, where he remained for nine years.
He then became a librarian at various schools until his retirement in 2005.
Featherstone was interviewed by police in October last year, when he admitted to abusing one boy in Myrteford and another in Inglewood. His admission helped police to find more victims.
Featherstone told police he targeted young boys as part of a “power thing”.
“Once I started they didn’t scream or carry on so I thought it was alright,” he said.
“You get carried away with doing it, you’re powerful, you win.”
Mr Georgiou said Featherstone’s age meant time in prison would be especially onerous, and that he was “undeveloped and unsophisticated” socially at the time of the offending.
Magistrate Bruce Cottrill had Featherstone assessed for a community corrections order. He will be sentenced on December 20.