A man molested by former North East teacher Vincent Reynolds - who pleaded guilty to a raft of offences last month - has said the abuse "destroyed" his life.
David, who was at a primary school in north-eastern Victoria when he was molested in 1986, also said he suffers from "severe trust issues".
David told how the abuse, which happened when he was around seven years old, later caused him to turn to drugs and alcohol. This triggered a heart attack at the age of 27, leading him to fall from a forklift - which then caused hypoxic brain injury due to oxygen deprivation.
If it wasn't for my mum... I wouldn't be here today. After the heart attack I was practically a vegetable. I had to teach myself to walk, talk and speak all over again.David, child sexual abuse survivor
It almost led to his death, he said.
"If it wasn't for my mum... I wouldn't be here today. After the heart attack I was practically a vegetable. I had to teach myself to walk, talk and speak all over again."
He said his life would not have taken such a downward turn had he not been abused. "I wasn't able to live a normal life. Vincent Reynolds took that away from me."
David said the abuse he suffered at the hands of Vincent Reynolds had a negative impact "in so many ways".
"Over the years I have struggled with affection and forming real connections with people."
He has also revealed how he lost interest in pursuing a career as an architect after the abuse.
I felt guilty... and it was even more difficult because no one believed me in the beginning.David, child sexual abuse survivor
"I stopped caring about myself and my wellbeing. I was plagued with constant thoughts of the abuse and I felt dirty," he said. "I felt guilty... and it was even more difficult because no one believed me in the beginning."
He said that after suffering from a heart attack he had trouble finding a job and had no money to look after himself - but eventually he was able to pull himself together to start his own landscaping business.
"My life hasn't been easy but I do the best that I can," he said.
David is currently suing the State of Victoria through Melbourne-based lawyers Arnold Thomas & Becker.
Reynolds pleaded guilty to historical sexual abuse crimes against 38 children last month. The offences occurred across Reynolds' 32-year career as a teacher, which began in a tiny township near Ballarat in 1960.
He mainly abused young boys under the age of 16.
He travelled to the North East in the mid 1970s and taught at Wodonga's Bandiana Primary School and Melrose Primary School, as well as schools in Beechworth and Myrtleford.
It is understood a complaint was made to the Department of Education around 1980 and Reynolds was sent for psychiatric treatment.
He was subsequently allowed to return to his teaching work and taught in several schools, including the school in the North East where he indecently assaulted David on two occasions.
A statement of claim described the failure to protect children from a known offender as a "disgrace".
David's lawyers say it was negligent to permit Reynolds to teach "after it was known that he had a propensity to sexually abuse children".
Reynolds is due to be sentenced at Melbourne County Court later this month on June 27.
- Affected by these issues? Phone CASA, Sebastopol on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
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