On Tuesday September 7th, 1982 Peter Hamer walked into Bell High School for the first time.
He was a shy kid taking the first steps into his new school eager to begin grade 9. Like every other young person beginning their high school adventure, he had all the hopes and dreams for a future filled with opportunity and excitement. The next four years at Bell would prove to be anything but that.
Not much of a jock, or a high achiever scholastically, Peter found his place in the music room. Participating in the high school band with his small circle of friends is where he felt at home and accepted. This is also where he met the man who also changed the direction of Peter’s life forever. Bob Clarke was Bell High School’s music director, he was a talented musician and gifted teacher, leading the Bell High school bands to victories in multiple competitions for years. Bob Clarke was also a sexual predator and Peter was only one of his many victims.
Being a young male victim of sexual assault is traumatic, living with it for decades is even more difficult. A little over 30 years after Peter left high school, he finally told an Ottawa police detective what happened to him during his high school years. Bob Clarke, now in his early seventies, was finally arrested and charged for the crimes he committed. After Peter came forward nine more men went to police to tell of the abuse they received at the hands of this former music teacher. Mr. Clarke would finally pay for his crimes and serve time in prison.
Mr. Clarke’s guilty plea led to an eight-month-long CBC investigation led by CBC Senior Reporter Julie Ireton looking into the sex crimes perpetrated by three teachers over five decades. The investigation uncovered the stories of abuse and the institutions that protected the abusers. You can find the article HERE. It was then made into a CBC Ottawa Podcast, “The Band Played On”. The podcast follows the story of sexual abuse and tells the stories of the survivors.
Being the victim of sexual assault leaves scars that can last a lifetime, statistics suggest 1 in 6 males will be a victim of this type of assault. The shame and guilt associated with being a victim is often carried for a lifetime and can force men to suffer in silence. As a society, it’s time to shine the light into this dark place.
No More Secrets is a conversation about sexual assault and the lasting impact and effects it can have on the boys and men who are victims. On Wednesday, November 20 please join CBC Senior Reporter Julie Ireton in a conversation with Peter Hamer as they discuss Peter’s journey from victim to victor.
This free event will take place from 7–9 pm at the Almonte Old Town Hall, and is co-sponsored by Lanark County Mental Health, Carebridge Community Support, Ottawa Valley Family Health Team, Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence of Lanark Country and Victim Services of Lanark County. November is Men’s Mental Health Month.