My extensive coverage of Geoffrey Eve, the teacher who physically assaulted me twice when I was 10 has prompted two more victims to step forward, as the school continues its wilful denial of the scale of the abuse. I was almost in tears reading what happened to this man who, I am afraid I do not remember, but who was two years older than me. This testimony shows that Warwick has now covered up the Eve scandal three times in forty years.
The first was in 1977 when his abuse was, as you can see below, at its height. Warwick should have fired him and reported him to the Police. Instead it gave him a period of rest on full pay from which he returned in 1979 to carry on the abuse. He came back just in time to be my form master in 3A, my final year at the Junior School so he could slam my head against the wall.
The second cover-up came after he had carried on abusing for another two or three years when finally Warwick encouraged him to take early retirement on a full pension. He was invited back to all Old Warwickian events, school concerts and other functions for many years, treated as an honoured old soul, until I intervened and he was banned from school grounds. Had Warwick acted properly the first time, this second period of abuse would not have happened.
Why did Warwick not act? We do not know as it claims to have lost all its records. But there are teachers from that era still alive who must know. This was a clear and massive failure of duty of care and it is about time that the school acknowledged this in full.
The third cover up has occurred under current headmaster Deneal Smith. Under some pressure from myself, with the support of the heroic Simon Lycett, to do something, Smith published an article in the Old Warwickian magazine admitting that Warwick had in some ways failed past students and inviting folks with grievances to come forward. But, against my strongest advice, he did not say that there had been specific allegations made against specific former teachers with regard to both sexual and also physical abuse. Thus victims reading that article may well think they are unique – and in the way victims of abusers often do – that they somehow asked for it or were to blame. That is why none of us told our parents all those years ago. Or perhaps victims of physical abuse thought Deneal’s appeal did not apply to them as it was only about sexual abuse?
And Deneal, having been seen to do something, has left it at that. Of course, if you were abused at Warwick and hated the place – I should say I have very mixed memories – you will not sign up to get the OW Mag. A few sensitive intellectuals such as myself and my pal Jon Kemp might read it. But nearly all of those who read pages and pages of yarns and photos about happy and boorish rugger players were happy and boorish rugger players who were, generally, not those abused. In days gone by, Warwick was a sports obsessed, philistine establishment where those who were different in some way from the jockstrap wearing elite, could find life very hard.
Call me Denial Smith needs to rectify past wrongs and hire an independent law firm to undertake a full enquiry. The fact that victims continue to come to me not to him must show him that his lame article in the OW is not enough, the victims don’t get the OW and, for very good reasons, may not trust Warwick. I hope what he reads below from victim C will get that message through.
On the subject of the sexual abuser who left Warwick without a stain on his character although, I suspect, with many on his trousers, able to continue giving lessons to young boys because Warwick had failed again, there has been no news. I hope to establish from one victim who has contacted the Police if they are taking the matter seriously. If not, I am hatching a plan to confront him in person.
Meanwhile, to victim C who describes putting his experiences down on paper as “cathartic”. I think Warwick School would find a full enquiry into the scale of abuse and its failure of care in covering it up to be cathartic as well.
I have used a surname initial to describe other boys mentioned in this testimony. For reference, boys in U2 would have been 9 and 10, the form after that was 3A or 3B. C writes:
U2B, must have been September1975, Mrs Birt warned us that the teacher who would be teaching us English was ‘not like your other teachers’. Mrs Birt was quite strict, but I never saw her hit anyone.
That afternoon, we had our first ever lesson with Mr Eve. He walked into the room and we all stood up, but B slightly stumbled and stood up a second or two after us. Mr Eve bellowed at the top of his voice and literally ran to B and started hitting the side of his head. Bear in mind we were 9 years old at this point. Mr Eve continued to slap and hit B for the entire lesson. The rest of us sat silent for the whole lesson, as Mr Eve continued to hit the unfortunate boy, who was by now in utter distress, crying his eyes out, but Mr Eve kept it up. In hindsight, I think he was just establishing his credentials as the one to be frightened of.
3B, 1976-77. Mr Eve walked into our English lesson and stated ‘I’m so cross that I’m going to hit every single one of you; I WILL find a reason’.
He carried out the threat; he did find a reason for each of us and hit us all several times round the head.
He usually placed a pencil interlaced between his finger and hit you in the temple with the projecting knuckle, in order to maximise the impact and pain.
In my case I was hit for being Welsh. Even the very good, swotty boys were hit. Even the sporty one who ended up as Captain of cricket and rugger got hit that day, for having red hair. Other boys were hit for having inkspots on their books, having an odd number of pens and pencils, having a worn down rubber, and having a loose shoelace,
Another time he picked on a boy who was newly arrived from the former Rhodesia or possibly Swaziland, where his parents had been Civil Servants. Mr Eve hit him round the head solidly for several minutes and shouted ‘did they teach you up a tree in the jungle in Africa?’.
He received the beating because when he was issued his exercise book, he mistook the order to mark ‘Essay’ on the book and wrote S.A. instead.
I once lost my English book and was subjected to such a hard beating round the head (again with the pencil between the fingers trick) that I actually had to report to Matron as I began vomiting during break. I have suffered with recurring Migraines ever since that day, and I still take Migraine prevention meds now, some 40 odd years later.
That lost English book led to multiple attacks on me, as Mr Eve told me to copy from other boys books in order to catch up. He went on to hit me every lesson until I had caught up. Needless to say, I received an almost daily beating for two weeks.
When I sat the 11+ exam, I attained the highest score in the whole year. This flew in the face of Mr Eve’s reports of me being useless, lazy, slacker etc. when he saw my result he announced that we were going to have a special spelling test, as a vindication of his low opinion of me. I actually scored 19 out of 20, as I had misheard the word ‘shining’ as ‘shiny’. Some other boys got 13, 14, 15 out of 20, but his venom was reserved for me. when he discovered that I had got one wrong, he literally ran down the row of desks and hit me in the side of the head with his fist, so hard that I fell off my chair and bashed into the radiator. Not satisfied with that he hit me several more times, and then announced that I was to write out the word ‘Shining’ 10,000 times, and that I was forbidden from having a lunch break until I finished. He kept the book that I had to write in, so that I could not complete the task at home. As a 10 year old, I was not that fast a writer, and in the 45 minute Lunch break, I managed around 500 words on a good day. After about 3 weeks of having no food, and no break at lunchtime, I think it was Mr Marshall, the Junior Head, who noticed and asked me what I was doing. He told me to stop, and I expect he had words with Mr Eve.
Another time I remember that Mr Eve walked in and realised that he had a drawing pin embedded in the heel of his shoe. He shouted that one of us had deliberately left it as a trap. He spent the whole lesson hitting us one by one, and said he would continue until someone confessed. That lesson he accused and hit about half the class, and said the rest of us would get it tomorrow. I remember being physically sick in the car on the way to school the next morning with dread of what was going to happen. My father just said ‘clean yourself up when we get to school’ as he thought I was just trying to wangle a day off.
Sure enough Mr Eve hit the rest of us as there was no confession forthcoming, as of course no-one had deliberately dropped a pin on the floor.
Once I forgot my line in a mini play that we were rehearsing, and Mr Eve hit me on the side of the head so hard that I fell to the floor. Needless to say, I have hated am-dram ever since.
One time I was actually stung by a wasp in the middle of a lesson. Another boy had got the wasp tangled in his hair, and when he flicked it out of his hair, it landed on my hand and stung me. I managed to bear it for a few seconds, but then started to shake my hand. I knew I had to remain silent, but Mr Eve noticed my ‘fidgeting’ and hit me in the temple with his ‘pencil knuckle’ until I managed to stop moving. When I said in exasperation that my hand had been stung by a wasp, he told me that I was lying. He shoved my hand in the desk and held the lid down on my hand with all his strength. I’m amazed my hand wasn’t broken, but it was bruised for days.
In one lesson, he said that we could play a game for a bit of light relief. It was a kind of Call my Bluff, and it was the type of game that I excelled at (and still do). I made the mistake of guessing his word ‘Rorqual’ at the first attempt. He hit me multiple times for in his words ‘spoiling the game’.
He picked on other boys as well, but in my perception I had it the worst. Of course to a 10 year old, it must have seemed that I was the main victim, but there were other instances. I remember him hitting H so hard and so many times that he became unresponsive. I seem to remember that was over some question of alternative spellings of a word.
One boy, P, had the temerity to say ‘no’ to Mr Eve once, and I remember vividly Mr Eve grabbing him by the hair and smashing his head into the wall by the light switch. There were several cracks in the plaster left behind after that attack. That, I believe, was just before some kind of enquiry into Mr Eve’s conduct, as P had concussion.
Shocked Deneal Smith? You should be. There are still other teachers from Warwick Junior School who are alive. I sense they, all female, were also scared by Eve. Why not contact them to verify what so many OWs have now told you? Or better still set up that full independent enquiry and do it now. I can supply Warwick with the names of H, P, B and C. Warwick now has at least a dozen victims of Eve giving similar testimony and I shall offer up another later this week. At what point will the school accept that we might just be telling the truth and that what happened was a scandal which can be buried no longer?