Jersey carer convicted of sex attacks in Haut de la Garenne

Relates to:
Date: 2009-08-20

By Vanessa Allen

The first man to stand trial over the Jersey children's home abuse scandal was today convicted of a series of sex attacks on teenagers.

Gordon Wateridge, a former 'house parent' at the Haut de la Garenne children's home, was warned he faced jail after he was found guilty of carrying out eight indecent assaults on teenage girls.

The 78-year-old, nicknamed 'The Perv' by his victims, preyed on the vulnerable children while they were residents at the home, made infamous last year following claims that human remains had been discovered there.

Haut de la Garenne was dubbed the 'Jersey House of Horrors' after detectives said that the remains of at least five children had been found, alongside so-called punishment rooms under the former children's home.

Police have since admitted that the tiny bone fragments may not be human, and could be hundreds of years old.

One fragment believed to have been from a skull was later revealed to have been a piece of wood or coconut.

The finds were uncovered during a year-long investigation into historical child abuse on the island.

More than 150 alleged victims told police they were abused at Haut de la Garenne and other Jersey homes between the 1940s and 1980s.

Wateridge, who worked at the home in the 1970s, was found guilty of eight charges of indecent assault against three teenage girls and one charge of assault against a teenage boy.

Jersey Royal Court heard he was a 'persistent sexual bully' towards his female victims, who were all under 16 at the time of the attacks.

They gave harrowing accounts of the abuse they had suffered at his hands and told the court he had taken advantage of his position of power to kiss and grope them.

One woman broke down in tears as she described how he repeatedly grabbed her and other girls as they walked past the home's snooker table, before pushing them onto the table and groping them.

The 53-year-old said: 'He was pretending to tickle me but from my point of view he was having a good feel. His hands would be moving up and down the inside of my leg.'

The woman, who was sent to the home after her father died, leaving her mother unable to cope, added: 'I was a girl of 13 or 14, he was a big man, I would be shouting to stop.'

She said she had not felt able to report the abuse at the time, saying: 'No-one would have listened.'

Another woman said she had felt 'dirty' after being repeatedly groped by Wateridge.

She said he once commented that she had 'child-bearing hips', and she told the court: 'It was not something you would expect an adult to say to a child.'

Judge Christopher Pitchers told Wateridge that he faced a custodial sentence after the jury's guilty verdicts were returned.

The pensioner, who had denied all the charges, was cleared of another 11 counts of indecent assault and one charge of incitement to indecent assault.

Wateridge, who was born in Croydon, South London, and now lives in Jersey, will be sentenced next month and was released on bail.

He had adopted a series of bizarre disguises to try to avoid the media as he arrived at court during the seven-day trial, hiding his face with a combination of scarves, baseball caps and wraparound sunglasses.

He was the first person to stand trial over the abuse investigation, although a second man, Michael Aubin, 46, admitted sexually abusing younger boys at Haut de la Garenne while he was a teenage resident there.

Aubin was spared a prison sentence after the court heard he had been the victim of serious sexual abuse by at least one member of staff at the home, which closed in 1986.

Speaking outside the court, Det Supt Mick Gradwell said the island-wide abuse investigation was continuing.

He said: 'Gordon Wateridge, a house parent at Haut de la Garenne, was a sexual bully towards vulnerable young girls in his care. 

'We hope the complainants involved in this trial have received some comfort from the decision reached by the court.'

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"parent-figures"

What astounds me is how little interest and response articles like this seem to get from the global community.

Adults... in paid positions... have sexually abused children (of various ages) while in-care, and people forget the story reported is often not as bad as the true reality.

Why?

Not every victim is willing to come forward.

Why?

Because they are scared... for a variety of reasons.

People do not like to hear well-respected "parent-figures" like to touch and fondle the children put in their temporary care.

People would rather vilify an unwanted bastard before they question a person who dedicates his life to others, and "can do no harm".

'Gordon Wateridge, a house parent at Haut de la Garenne, was a sexual bully towards vulnerable young girls in his care. 

'We hope the complainants involved in this trial have received some comfort from the decision reached by the court.'

I think about the many silent victims "touched" by abuse-in-care... and I wonder how much comfort can be found when each living victim knows how many have to be hurt before a complaint is taken seriously enough for an official to "investigate".

silent victims...

I've known the silent victims in my own home and it causes me such agony knowing I could have done something sooner if I had known sooner.  I see things as they happened to me: I told, and paid for all these years because I ruined the family peace (known as the hidden secret).  So I figured my kids would tell me... not...  each child is different.
There is always more.  Even when they/we do tell, there is so much more that does not get told because of the great humiliation that is put on us who tell.  It doesn't always make for a happily-ever-after by telling... sometimes (and my daughter said this herself) it is better to suffer the abuse than to be driven from your family; intimidated to destroy your family, all in the name of "conviction."

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Dear Teddy,   I myself am a

Dear Teddy,

  I myself am a sexual abuse suvivor. From the age of about 6 to 17 I was victimized repeatedly. I hear the words you use "What did I ever do to deserve this". Nothing, but you know this.  The fact of the matter is that it happened and what is important now is understanding why it happened and how your story can help another.  For me, it was a constant battle of dancing on a very thin line of madness and sadness. Until I was ready to accept what happened, move and help others I was in constant limbo. Of course, it's different for everyone. I don't really know all the details of the situation but in any event I ask (And still do sometimes) "What did I do to deserve this, why me". I should have been saying

  "I have a powerful voice, a message of hope and survival" until I figured all of that out, I was simply a mess. A destructive, hurtful and vengeful person. It was terrible for all involved, including me. Maybe I was worse than others, I don't know. Being a RADult isn't fun.

  Keep your head up Teddy, I understand and feel for you.

  Michael
  http://www.rad-online.org
  http://rad.-online.blogspot.com

" The very survival mechanics RAD Adult's use to survive slowly kill them" M.S.

self-destruction...

"" The very survival mechanics RAD Adult's use to survive slowly kill them" M.S."
This really hit me...  how I have survived has slowly killed everything I was trying to accomplish.  The compulsive behavior; the constant triggering of self-defense; the non-stop hitting-back only pushed people away while I sat screaming, "WHY don't you SEE me????"
What people have seen is the angry hurt child who was never loved and accepted.  And as a very old woman I still feel the effects of not having been loved as a child!  I married a man who did it too me all over again.  I sometimes think, "WHAT good does it do to try so hard?"  In picking the wrong man, I nearly destroyed my children AND myself.  As the Bible says, "vanity, vanity, all is vanity."
Thanks for sharing

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Pound Pup Legacy