A life of misery that ended in suicide

"Annie" Jarmyn, 56, died by her own hand in Braybrook on April 22 after what one person familiar with her case described as a life of the most terrible suffering.


Those who attended her funeral service and cremation at Napier Park Funeral Centre in Bendigo on Monday got an idea of the pain she appears to have withheld for years.


A euology was read detailing some of the history of a woman put into an orphanage as a child believing her family was dead.


Little had been known of her suffering, though some people who work with victims or sexual abuse were familiar with her case. She had been detailing to them alleged sexual abuse that threatens to plunge into crisis the Anglican Church in Australia.


The decision by Melbourne Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno yesterday to lift suppression orders on the case, allowed her story to be told. She outlines it in a 25-page affidavit.


Rose Marie Ann Gardner was born on October 19, 1946, at West Brunswick, Melbourne, one of five children, to Lillian Cavell Gardner and Walter Henry Gardner, known for his drinking and cruelty.


She was separated from her siblings at four months when her mother placed her in St Gabriel's Home for Babies, Balwyn, on January 15, 1947, and agreed to pay 12 shillings and sixpence a week for her care. Her siblings were also placed in care. She thought they were dead, until she was contacted by a sister in 2001.


She became a ward of state when her mother fell behind with the payments and she was sent to St Luke's Toddlers Home in Bendigo until she was four.


Then, she was placed with a foster family at Summerfield, near Bendigo. She remained there until she was nine when, in 1956, she was sent to Turana Children's Home in Royal Park.


The orphanage was a long way behind Mrs Jarmyn when she married and had three children. But the memories persisted. Several months ago Mrs Jarmyn decided to take legal action for what she alleged had happened to her as a child and a young woman.


One of the allegations was that she was raped by Peter Hollingworth, now the Governor-General of Australia, at a youth camp when she was 19 or 20.


But the abuse by Anglican clergy and church officials started much earlier, she alleges.


She says she first suffered sexual abuse when she was 10 when a Church of England minister, the Reverend Charles Whitehead, abused her at his house adjacent to St Peter's Anglican Church, Elmore. The abuse "included oral sex, masturbation and penetration", she says.


Mrs Jarmyn claims her abusers included Whitehead's brother and his brother-in-law, Raymond Goodie, to whom she had been fostered. "Whitehead and Raymond Goodie would tell me that, when Mrs Goodie died, I would have to take on the role of Mr Goodie's wife and that they were getting me ready for that role," she claims. "I was made to feel second rate, that I was being used as a favour, and that I was the parcel in a game of pass-the-parcel," she says.


As a teenager, she began to tell people what she alleges had happened and was admitted to Larundel Psychiatric Hospital. She was accused of lying when she spoke of the abuse but later confessed the allegations were false, but only so she would be discharged from the hospital.


Dr Hollingworth yesterday emphatically denied the allegation against him. "I can only assume that the claims against me must have been made as a result of mistaken identity," Dr Hollingworth said in a statement.


The allegation against Dr Hollingworth created outrage in some church circles when they were first made.


Mrs Jarmyn went to the Supreme Court in Melbourne with her lawyers from the Queensland firm Shine Roche McGowan, seeking permission to launch a civil case against Dr Hollingworth and a number of individuals and institutions of the Anglican Church and the Victorian Department of Human Services. By law, Mrs Jarmyn could not take action because more than six years had expired since the alleged offence.


But Mrs Jarmyn did not want to suffer the public exposure she and her legal advisers knew would come from the case. She asked the Supreme Court to order that she could remain anonymous while she purused her action. Justice Nettle granted an order suppressing her identity and making the file confidential.


The Governor-General sought and was granted the same level of protection from public scrutiny.


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