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Parktown Boys' parents speak out: 'I lost my son'

24 October 2018 - 13:03 By Jessica Levitt
Collan Rex, former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys' High, during a previous court appearance.
Collan Rex, former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys' High, during a previous court appearance.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

Three parents who claim their children were sexually assaulted by Collan Rex, the former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys' High, have spoken of the trauma their children went through, detailing the impact the sex abuse scandal has had on their families.

TimesLIVE has not named the parents as the law prevents juvenile victims of crime being  identified.

"My son was, and is, really damaged as a result of what has happened. He currently has to deal with a lot of psychological problems. It's played a helluva role in our family. It's been very difficult," said one father.

He said his son had tried to take his own life and had received treatment in a psychiatric facility. The dad said his wife had to leave her job as a result of the trauma and also needed "help" in dealing with what had happened.

In the roundtable discussion, which was aired on internet radio station CliffCentral.com, two of the parents said they had no idea what was going on at the time of the abuse. 

One mom said her son could not sleep and he became aggressive towards his siblings.

"I lost my son for three-and-a-half years. I didn't know who he was. I even thought he was a satanist because he wouldn't sleep at night."

She later learnt that the hours when her son had insomnia matched the times that he was allegedly abused while at boarding school.

The mom said that even when the school sent an email to parents explaining what was going on, she never thought her son was involved. She said she later learnt that he had been taken to hospital on two occasions.

The mom said her son resorted to "smoking weed" and while she lambasted him at the time, she now realises it was to "escape" what was going on.

The parents said they knew they had to come forward with the revelations not only to expose what had happened at the school and for closure, but to prevent future abuse from going on.

"They are taught not to snitch. It's an environment of keeping the silence and keeping it to yourself," said one of the fathers.

Rex faced 327 counts when his trial began in August. He pled guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault against 12 of the 23 boys and is still facing 142 counts against him, including rape and attempted murder. A new court date has not yet been set.