A DARK chapter in Toowoomba's history is destined for the silver screen when production wraps on Don't Tell, the feature film dramatisation of one girl's sexual abuse survival and legal reformation.
Billed as the case that broke the silence on child sex abuse in Australia, Don't Tell will chronicle one girl's long wait for justice after her tormentor committed suicide 40 minutes before he was to face criminal charges in court.
It is the story of Lyndal, the 11-year-old Toowoomba Prep School student who was sexually abused and forever scarred at the hands of boarding master Kevin George Guy in 1990.
Lyndal's case instigated sweeping reforms across the nation and was the catalyst behind the revolutionary Blue Card background check system and pre-dated the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse by more than a decade.
It would also send the Australian Government into turmoil after rumours and speculation dogged the nation's highest office holder in former governor-general Dr Peter Hollingworth.
Her abhorrent story is widely known but privacy laws have largely kept Lyndal's identity from the public's eye - until now.
Based on the book by the same name, Don't Tell will star rising talent Sara West in the key role alongside identities such as Rachel Griffiths, Jack Thompson and Martin Sacks.
"I have been heartened by the response from the actors wanting to join this project," producer Scott Corfield said.
"There's something about true courtroom dramas that people find riveting and I hope we can do 'justice' to all concerned."
Mr Corfield likened the film to the box-office smash Spotlight, the dramatisation of the Boston Globe's investigation into systemic child sex abuse within the Catholic Church around the world.
He hopes Don't Tell will make people as angry as that and bring back to the fore the injustices dealt to victims and the ongoing fight survivors face for justice and compensation.
CHARGES were filed against Guy on November 30, 1990, when detectives from Toowoomba's Juvenile Aid Branch after victims lodged their complaints.
The charges of indecently dealing with a girl under 16 were first mentioned in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on December 3, but the matter was adjourned to December 18.
That morning, 40 minutes before Guy was to front court again, a park ranger found him dead in a car parked at the Perseverance Lookout at 9.40am.
A suicide note held his confession to the charges, and listed 20 other victims he claimed to love.
The criminal case died with the former Toowoomba Prep School boarding master, seemingly leaving his victims without recourse.
It wouldn't be until 11 years later, in 2001, that Guy's victim Lyndal would get her day in court.
"Lyndal used the law to expose an institution guilty of heinous behaviour," Mr Corfield said.
"A jury of four people representing our society had the responsibility to do what was morally right and hold that institution publicly accountable in the most transparent way.
"This story deserved us making a movie about the fight to attain justice."
The Chronicle's archives are littered with the case from the first charges being laid in 1990 to as recent as last year.
Civil proceedings started on November 13, 2001, when Lyndal sued the Anglican Church for $450,000.
The court was told she had been lured into sex acts with Guy, and was suing the church in the Supreme Court for psychological damages including post-traumatic stress and lost prospects of a career in finance because of the abuse.
The church fought the charge and denied it had neglected its duty of care.
Graphic details were relayed in the Supreme Court, bringing to the fore the details again which, despite the difficulties, were heard again by Guy's victims.
Barrister Robert Myers, for Lyndal, told the court Toowoomba Prep School nursing sisters were aware of Guy's behaviour around girls from as early as 1989 - behaviour which included passing notes to girls, surrounding himself with an inner-sanctum of well-developed pretty Year 7 female students, and inviting them to sit on his knee and rub sunscreen on him.
But the staff did nothing, and the offending wasn't reported to any authorities until November 9, 1990, when another school employee noted Lyndal was not in her bed one night.
Guy denied the charges until his suicide note carried his confession.
The creative minds behind the film hope it will keep people aware of offending, as graphic and abhorrent as it seems.
LYNDAL and her mother cried the day a jury determined the Anglican Church should pay her $834,400 for the exploitation.
It was a landmark judgement after four weeks of damning evidence in the Supreme Court which laid the blame squarely back on the church for its failure to protect students from the likes of Guy.
The award included $400,000 to punish and make an example of the church which had refused to acknowledge Guy's offending for 11 years.
The two men, two women jury deliberated for three hours.
The Anglican Church, on its judgement day, expressed "deep regret" for the abuse and ruled out a blanket apology for its victims.
An apology was made, however, in June, 2002, when then-headmaster Bruce Howden wrote to more than 700 families whose children had been at Toowoomba Prep School at the time Guy was boarding master.
WHAT started in a Toowoomba courtroom would eventually bring down a governor-general and divide a nation.
The case instigated an inquiry into the Anglican Church's handling of child sex abuse in the Brisbane diocese, which included the Toowoomba Prep School.
Then Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth had been the archbishop during the scandal surrounding Lyndal's case which had paved the way for other victims to speak out and begin their own fights for justice.
Dr Hollingworth had been plagued by sexual abuse allegations including a civil rape case against him which was later abandoned.
He denied the allegations since they were made and enjoyed support from then prime minister John Howard who defended his appointment to the country's highest office.
But on May 25, 2003, Dr Hollingworth declared he would resign from the role, issuing a six-paragraph statement that expressed his deep regret over the decision and made mention of what he believed to be unfair attacks on him.
THE landmark ruling brought about sweeping reforms and changes to the way Australia treats child abuse cases.
It turned the spotlight on the issue and allowed more victims to come forward.
The Blue Card Childcare System was formed, requiring all people - men and women - who work with children to undergo background and suitability checks.
It sparked an inquiry into the Anglican Church which, as reported, would ultimately bring about the resignation of a governor-general and reveal to an appalled country the extent of child sex abuse.
Producer Scott Corfield said telling Lyndal's story was vital to ensuring things don't take a backward slide in terms of justice and closure.
"This case was decided 15 years ago," he said.
"What changed? The lawmakers made it harder for victims to get justice.
"Now there is a national spotlight on child abuse in our institutions, but it's useful for victims to take courage from those that have gone before them."
The film's national legal partner Jodie Willey said Lyndal's case had broken barriers but some still remained.
"In effect, awareness has increased, policies have changed, survivors have been given a voice, perpetrators and institutions are exposed and made to feel uncomfortable during inquiry interrogation," she said.
"Some opponents are softening and have a more collaborative, empathic approach to resolving cases but legal (limitation periods) and insurance considerations remain hurdles to survivors accessing appropriate monetary compensation."
FILMING is set to wrap in Ipswich late next month when it will enter editing and then do the international film festival rounds.
Mr Corfield said some scenes would be shot in Toowoomba but the bulk of the film would feature the "more convenient geographically" locations of Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley.
Mr Corfield is aiming for an early 2017 theatrical release, and he is hoping it will strike a chord with viewers.
"I hope they recognise courage when they see it," he said.
"I hope they are inspired.
"And I hope it stops someone from being abused."
Mr Corfield said the Don't Tell cast and crew had met with Lyndal who gave her consent for the film.
While not involved in production, he said she was "happy for us to make the film".
It will be based on Steven Roche's book and court transcripts.
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