Some twenty months ago three female ex-pupils who had been chastised by headmaster Robin Peverett, O.B.E. appeared in a Channel 5 television program and described their punishments. There was a lot of talk about knickers. I shall be sending quotations from their interviews in the near future.
At the start of the program, a grinning Robin Peverett is shown, in a clip from another film, telling us what a delightful child his ex-pupil, the Countess of Wessex.
Four interviews with other past pupils follow, and here is what attractive blonde (as the tabloids would have it) Tracey had to say:
He said that he had spoken to my parents about what we were planning on doing. They had said that he should deal with me accordingly in a manner that he felt appropriate, which of course I believed. He sat in his armchair at the head of the table and made me stand in front of him, and the first thing that he asked me to do was to pull down my knickers and lift my dress as high as I could. He proceeded to lecture me and tell me what a bad person I was. Why I had to have my knickers round my ankles and my dress held up threw me so much that I felt completely humiliated. I didn’t understand it, but it felt wrong. And then he proceeded to bend me over his knee and smack me six times on either buttock, all the time saying he was sorry, he didn’t want to hurt me, but he felt I had to be punished to make sure I didn’t do it again. He then proceeded to rub me better
After leaving Dulwich Preparatory School, Robin became an ofstead inspector. It is said that the question he most often asked the female pupils was, Do you do French?
Here follows part of the interview with Dulwich Preparatory School ex-pupil, Julia. She is shown seated alongside her dear old mother, who was formerly a teacher at the school.
He called me into his study because he said my spelling tests were not quite up to scratch, but I knew that was a sort of code for what was going to follow. And he did exactly the same to me as he did to a lot of other children at the time. He told me that I had to take my pants down, I had to lie across his lap, and he would spank me. But I knew it wasn’t as straightforward as that sounds. I knew what he was doing was wrong. You knew it had sexual content to it. And that’s what happened, except I refused to take my pants down. I knew that was in a sense the start of things, and if I let him do that it may develop or go on to other things, or just be repeated, so I refused completely. And I remember very distinctly standing there with a sense of utter humiliation and powerlessness with this man saying, You have to take your pants down. You have to take your pants downand just hold my ground and saying, I’m not going to do it.
And in the end, he said, OK. just this time, but next time you will have to. So, I remember he laid me across his lap and started to stroke my bottom, which you knew hed been doing to other girls, and then it was over. But I was so angry about it. I remember just a feeling of absolute desperate fury that this was happening to me, and that it wouldn’t stop. It would go on and on.
If Robin Peverett had not appeared on a television documentary about the Countess of Wessex he would not have been seen as famous and therefore vulnerable to revenge. It is unlikely that any report would have been made to the police and nothing would be known publicly about any of this.
Channel 5 commissioned a documentary about Sophie Rees-Jones and, as her former headmaster, Robin Peverett appeared in the program to reminisce about Sophie’s idyllic schooldays.
Heres what confused former pupil Jo Evans had to say in the program referred to in previous messages:
I decided to watch the documentary out of curiosity because I was at school with the Countess of Wessex. When his [Peveretts] face appeared on the screen I felt like my heart had stopped and I just couldn’t breathe. It was as if time had stood still. I was almost immediately in school. I sat there for seconds and then I just leapt to my feet and I just really did lose control. I threw things and I just went to pieces. I just cried and I shook for a couple of hours afterward and I frightened myself and I frightened my husband too.
Unlike the ex-pupils quoted in the above messages, Jo did not receive corporal punishment from the headmaster.
He would spend five or ten minutes rebuking me about my work and then he would grab me and put me over his knees so that I was face down and he would remove my underwear and he would push up my dress so that it was literally up round my neck, so that the whole of my back down to my feet was exposed. He would rub his hands all the way down my back, all over my bottom, down my legs in a circular motion, quite firm, but he never hit me or he never smacked me. It was always a steady rhythmic movement.
First published on Wednesday 03 July 2002:
Ex-pupil’s sex abuse victory
by Fay Millar
A Crawley woman has been awarded a share of more than £200,000 compensation for sexual abuse inflicted by her headteacher.
She was one of eight former prep school pupils who brought a case against Dulwich College Preparatory School in Kent for failing in its duty of care.
The group was repeatedly indecently assaulted by Robin Peverett, 69, from Battle, between 1969 and 1977.
They reached the out-of-court settlement just weeks before the case was due to be heard in the High Court.
The 37-year-old woman had reported the crimes to police after seeing Peverett on television talking about the marriage of her school friend, Sophie Rhys-Jones, to Prince Edward.
Her decision encouraged other pupils to come forward and Peverett was arrested in 1999.
He was given a 15-month suspended sentence after he admitted assaulting six girls and one boy but the woman said she was devastated he did not go to jail.
There was outrage at the lenient sentence and although the case went to the Court of Appeal, judges turned down harsher sentencing.
Peverett made an OBE, faced a maximum of ten years in prison.
The eight victims and their solicitor, Sarah Harman, had nine hours of negotiations yesterday with representatives of the school’s governors.
After the meeting, the two sides issued a joint statement that read: “This compensation is in recognition of the sexual abuse they suffered as children perpetrated by headmaster Robin Peverett.
“Having met with representatives from the present board of governors, the former pupils are satisfied that appropriate measures are in place to ensure the highest possible standards of pastoral car.”
Peverett used to “discipline” the children by putting them across his knee and smacking their buttocks.
He often singled out children while they were wearing their pajamas and ordered them to his private quarters where he abused them.
The victims said Peverett should not have had access to the girls’ changing rooms nor been allowed to conduct sex education classes.
They also claimed staff must have been aware of Peverett’s behavior and when a complaint was lodged in 1975 they did not act on it.
The former pupils suffered psychological distress and a number of them performed badly in exams as a result of the abuse.
The compensation claim could open the way for other pupils to sue if they believe their school failed to prevent them from being abused by its staff.
This ex-head teacher abused these women when they were his pupils. So why didn’t he go to prison?
By [aptly named] Sally Weale
From The Guardian, June 22, 2000
Sally Weale meets the victims of Robin Peverett OBE, the man who ran Sophie Rhys-Jones’s preparatory school.
Jo Evans has not seen her ex-headmaster’s study for almost a quarter of a century, but she can remember it as clearly as if she had been summoned there this morning. It’s the smell that comes back most vividly – leather, and the sharp scent of polish rising from Mr Peverett’s mahogany table. She remembers the slip-on shoes he wore and his perma-crease trousers. And she remembers how he routinely sexually abused her there. Day after day. Again and again.
She was 10 years old when the abuse began. She was shy and quiet, and in the academic shadow of her three elder siblings who were also at the school. Mr Peverett (she still uses the polite title like a schoolgirl responding to the class register) called her to his study after she had a poor report and told her she needed some extra tuition. The abuse began gradually – taking her out of class perhaps once a month for some one-to-one tuition in his office. Then he began to summon her daily.
“Pervert Peverett” as he was known by his pupils (he was always twanging girls’ bra straps and knicker elastic) chose victims who were pretty, physically well-developed and easily intimidated. Each time Evans was called to his study, she knew exactly what to expect. She never came out of that room without being abused.
The more he abused her, the worse her work became and the more reason he had to summon her for “extra coaching”. She couldn’t talk to anyone, least of all her parents, who were friends with the headmaster. She was not even safe at the weekend. Peverett told her parents she needed extra coaching on a Saturday, so she was taken to her abuser kicking and screaming and begging not to go.
She felt frightened, powerless, and utterly under his control. If he had told her to walk on hot coals she would have done it. And her life has never been quite her own since. It was not until years later that Evans, now 35 with three children of her own, learned she was not Peverett’s only victim. An unknown number of children who were in his care were abused by him in the same way. They were called to his office for so-called punishments. They were made to lie across his knee either naked or with their clothes and underwear pulled down and he would rub their bare buttocks in a circular motion and spank them.
The consequences of his actions will last a lifetime for Evans and others like her. Yet on June 8, Robin Peverett OBE, former adviser to the Thatcher government, Ofsted inspector and headmaster of Dulwich College preparatory school, in Cranbrook, Kent, was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years. He admitted nine charges of indecently assaulting seven pupils – six girls and one boy – between the ages of 10 and 13, dating back to the late 60s and 70s, yet he walked free from court. The maximum sentence for indecent assault is 10 years. A further seven charges remain on the file.
Peverett’s case was originally listed for a three-week trial at Maidstone crown court – police and witnesses realised there would be considerable media interest, mainly because the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Rhys-Jones, was a pupil at the school, though she played no part in the police investigation. Peverett’s victims were looking forward to their day in court. “The trial was going to be our chance to say ‘Hello. I’m back. I’m going to tell those 12 good men and women of the jury exactly what you did to me,’ ” says Evans.
In the end, after lengthy legal wrangling, the public hearing lasted less than an hour and a half and as a result of a bit of nifty plea-bargaining, Peverett, 66, pleaded guilty and got to go home that night. The headmaster’s crimes were, Judge David Griffiths said, a serious breach of trust which would normally warrant custodial sentence, but because of Peverett’s achievements in the field of education – there were glowing testimonies from former pupils, staff, parents, fellow heads and even one ex-cabinet minister – his was an exceptional case.
So the former headmaster, who worked at the popular Dulwich Preparatory school for 30 years until his retirement in 1990, never had to face a jury and he never had to listen to his victims describe his crimes and the anguish they caused. Most of his accusers were not even in court to see him sentenced – Evans, by chance, was there expecting to be called as a witness. “When I saw him in the court, for a split second I was back in his office. That’s the power he had.”
As children they were betrayed by the man in whose care they had been placed; as adults they feel they have been cheated by the judicial system in which they put their faith. “The sentence will be of great comfort to other headmasters, past and present, who assault children in their care,” says another of Peverett’s victims, Vicky Bennison, 41. “On the other hand, victims of such abuse will be thinking, is all the emotional upheaval worth it if I go to the police and this is the result? They would conclude that it was not worth it and they would be right.”
Evans and Bennison, who were not identified in court, but have agreed to be named here, are now contacting the crown prosecution service (CPS) asking for the case to be referred to the attorney general, who could in turn refer it to the court of appeal to consider whether the sentence was unduly lenient. However, a CPS spokeswoman said there were no plans to refer the case on. The CPS view, it seems, is that at the time the offences were committed the maximum sentence was two years – taking that into consideration an 18-month suspended sentence does not seem unduly lenient, with the emphasis on unduly. Bennison and Evans, who have lived with the consequences of his actions for the best part of their lives, would disagree.
It was Evans who sparked off the original investigation into Peverett, a father of three, after watching a Channel 5 programme about the marriage of Sophie Rhys-Jones to Prince Edward. “Sophie was a good friend of mine. She was in my class. We had had contact up to her engagement. I watched it out of curiosity. Twenty minutes into the programme Mr Peverett came on to the screen. Seeing his face, I just lost the plot. I was inconsolable. I frightened myself. I started chucking things around the room. I frightened my husband. I couldn’t believe he was still out there.”
She didn’t eat or sleep for four days as she struggled to reach a decision about whether she should report him. She plucked up the courage and the inquiry began. “Physically he did the same thing every single time. I got to expect that. It was humiliating and degrading. It was the mental abuse that shattered me at the time and has affected my life ever since. That’s what they don’t take into account in court.”
After Peverett’s violations, her subsequent school career was unimpressive; she was deeply distrustful of male teachers and men in authority, worried that one of them would pick up where Peverett had left off. She was introverted and had problems forming relationships; she is still obsessive about covering up her body and is terrified of passing her problems on to her children.
“I’m supposed to be a role model for my children, but there’s this thing in my past which has distorted my view of being female. I’m very frightened of passing on my warped view to my two young daughters. It’s not OK for him to be infecting them. The main thing I have looked for is some peace in my life. I have not had peace since he did this to me.”
Bennison, who was a weekly boarder at the school for her last four terms, was summoned to Peverett’s office because he noticed she had started to use deodorant. “He was able to pick up on anxieties of children. He had this thing that I did not wash properly. He would sidle up to me and say, ‘Have you washed? I’m sure you haven’t.’ I had to be punished for this.
“He used to call me out of the dormitory after lights out. He made me take my clothes off and lie across his knees for not having washed properly. I had to be naked in front of this man at the age of 11.
“I did not tell anyone about it. I didn’t have the language to tell anyone. I told a boyfriend at the age of 17 and he didn’t respond so I thought maybe this isn’t important. For the next 15 years I could tell people when I got drunk at parties, but I couldn’t tell my family and friends.”
Then last year Bennison, who was working on an aid project in Russia, returned to visit her parents and discovered that Evans had made a statement to the police and an investigation was underway. She was one of 20 former pupils to contact the police following publicity about Peverett – not all of them were part of the final case. Peverett, of Battle, East Sussex, admitted the charge of indecent assault relating to Bennison; he admitted two of the three charges relating to Evans.
It should have been the beginning of the road to recovery for Bennison and Evans. Instead they feel cheated. They feel their voices have not been heard and their tormentor has escaped proper justice. “He should have had a custodial sentence. He was an OBE. Big deal. It doesn’t mean he isn’t guilty,” says Evans. “So he was an Ofsted inspector. Big deal. He admitted he was guilty of child abuse. Why didn’t he go to prison?
“I would have been happy if he had lost his liberty for just a short period of time. So maybe, just maybe, he might have had time to look back on his life and think about what he has done to us.”
This man should have been burned alive in the town square!
Readers who are aroused by the idea of male teachers spanking schoolgirls’ bums should read the above account again and again and again…until they are thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there appears to be no recorded case of a male teacher in the UK smacking a schoolgirl’s unskirted bum . . . except in circumstances which subsequently landed him in court.
Fake females and other fantasists would do well to remember those girls’ mental anguish before peddling their masturbation fantasies as ‘true stories’.
From personal experience Peverett was certainly offending as early as 1967.At that time as a boarder there was virtually no way to contact your family during term time.
A weekly letter home would be vetted and unposted if staff thought fit.And of course no phone calls.Peverett had full control of his boarding house though not yet headmaster.
Fortunately mine was a one off experience of his “punishment” as I think he saw I wasn’t cowed and at the naive age of 10 found his strange behaviour quite amusing. With hindsight he was doing his best to have a good look ,spanking was peripheral.