The other victim, who attended the New England school from1964 to ’67, said life at the school was reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and rife with “verbal, mental and physical bullying, homophobic and sadistic staff, and corporal punishment dealt out at will”.
He described Gardiner’s first attack on him as imprinted in his memory: “Sometime after midnight … Gardiner dragged me from my dorm bed, his hand over my mouth, and took me back to his room and raped me.”
The man said Gardiner’s obsession with him was noticed by other students, and he “was labelled as a teacher’s pet or, worse still, what would be referred to today in the vernacular as his ‘bitch’.”
He said it felt as though he had now emerged “from a gruesome, lifelong nightmare”.
Both men described the elation they felt when Gardiner was found guilty of the abuse that set in train decades of trauma that drastically altered their lives.
Gardiner’s barrister, Phillip Boulten, SC, said Gardiner, who is on remand, had been incarcerated for the first time as an old man: “The reality is this, the prison sentencing that he’s serving will be a very, very significant part of the rest of his life, if not all of it.”
The school had been wracked by allegations of sexual abuse in recent years, with a female staff member being handed a suspended jail sentence in 2018 for having sex with several male students.
In February last year the school removed a statue resembling a former celebrated teacher accused of inflicting physical and sexual abuse upon students within days of a public outcry from alleged victims.
Gardiner is due to be sentenced on November 12 at Campbelltown District Court.