More victims come forward after body builder claims he was abused at boarding school
- Credit: Aarron Lambo
A body-builder’s claim he was sexually abused at a boarding school has encouraged more than a dozen new alleged victims to come forward.
Aarron Lambo's emotional video about the abuse he claims to have suffered at Oxley Parker School, Colchester, has had more than 1.6m views since it was posted on Facebook on January 26.
Oxley Parker is at the centre of a £1.5m legal case, involving around 110 claimants, many of them vulnerable, who are alleged to have suffered physical or sexual abuse at the school between 1972 and 1998 when it closed.
Solicitors for the claimants said it appeared "several paedophiles" operated at the school, where abuse was found to have been "institutionalised" in the culture.
Lambo's revelation in 2018 that he had been physical abused encouraged many claimants to seek justice - but he had never before told of the sexual abuse he claims to have suffered.
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"This is the first time I've told anybody," he said. "I was too scared, or embarrassed to say it.
"I'm going to put everything on the line with you guys who have also suffered stuff, because if I'm brave enough to tell everybody that I care about, and everybody in the world on the internet, what I went through, if I can hold my hand up and said it happened to me, then you can too."
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The body-builder and social media star, who has more than a million Facebook followers, said the abuse he suffered caused him medical problems that still affect him today.
He told his fans it was "OK to be angry" but urged them to seek help, as he had done, rather than "bottle it up" inside.
Kathy Yates of Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors, who appeared in the video beside him, is representing around 110 claimants.
She said 50 of the claimants had been compensated with £1.5m paid out so far. A further 14 are going through the court process.
Allegations of abuse first arose in 1993, relating to Jonathan Bridgewater, who taught at the all boys' school from 1979,
Bridgewater was arrested in January 1996 and later found guilty of buggery, indecent assault and attempted buggery against seven boys.
The Judge, sentencing Bridgewater to 10 years in prison, said he preyed on his victims' vulnerably to satisfy his "perverted desires".
A group of claimants announced in 2016 they were seeking damages over abuse they suffered. The Eastern Counties Education Trust (ECET), which used to own the school but is now a grant giving organisation, launched a scheme in 2018 to compensate former pupils.
An ECET spokesman said its law firm had confirmed "the scheme has progressed well and they have been able to resolve many of the applications".
Ms Yates can be contacted on 01223 367133.
To view the video, which includes strong language, visit Aarron Lambo's Facebook page.