The West

Abuse victim awaits day of reckoning
Todd Jefferis, ended Dennis McKenna's reign of evil. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

The man who ended the 15-year reign of evil by serial paedophile Dennis John McKenna says it is time for those in authority who did nothing to face "their day of reckoning".

Todd Jefferis, 39, gave powerful evidence to the inquiry into child sex abuse at the State-run St Andrew's Hostel soon after it was told yesterday how a "disproportionate" number of boarders had committed suicide in the years after McKenna's crimes.

_The West Australian _ understands at least seven of McKenna's victims from the 1970s and 1980s have taken their own lives.

"I can't imagine how the families of these boys feel," Mr Jefferis said after giving his evidence.

"No one will ever forgive any of these people in authority for not protecting us.

"I can't wait to see some of these blokes get their day of reckoning."

Mr Jefferis was 17 in 1990 when McKenna interfered with him, then expelled him from the Katanning hostel when he complained about the abuse.

Sitting in Katanning yesterday, the inquiry began with an opening statement from Philip Urquhart, the lawyer assisting investigation chief Peter Blaxell.

"The tentacles of the sexual offending that took place at the hostel have spread beyond the victims and beyond the time frame of the offences," he said.

"It has caused fractures within this community, divisions within families and what appears tragically to be a disproportionate rate of suicide, particularly among males."

Mr Urquhart said while McKenna "hid behind a veil of decency", those who tried to blow the whistle on him were "cast as the villains" by community leaders.

He said that McKenna, now behind bars for the second time for his abuse of St Andrew's boys, was "untouchable" from 1975 to 1990.

The inquiry was told that when Mr Jefferis went with his mother to report sexual abuse to then Katanning Senior High School principal Ian Murray, Mr Murray dismissed the claims. "It was as though I'd accused him," Mr Jefferis said.

"He didn't want to know about it."

Mr Murray told _The West Australian _ last year that he did not think Mr Jefferis was referring to claims of a sexual nature when he came to see him.

But three members of Mr Jefferis' family told the inquiry it was made clear to the principal and hostel chairman Garth Addis that the allegations were about sexual abuse.

After McKenna was arrested, a public meeting was held in Katanning and soon after Mr Jefferis' family members received legal threats from the paedophile demanding they apologise to him and Mr Murray.

Mr Blaxell commended Mr Jefferis for his bravery and said he had saved many people from further devastation.

The West Australian

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