Armidale dentist Werner Otto Schwarz is questioned by police. He was scared and nervous. But mostly, he was repulsed. Three decades had passed, but the trauma Philip suffered from fortnightly sexual abuse at the hands of this highly regarded man in this picturesque town in country New South Wales was still fresh.
It was a moment of having to muster everything within my being to not do anything untoward to him. After decades of living with the damage inside his mind, Philip had come back to ask one question: Philip was now a fully grown man. But he says he could tell Schwarz, 82, recognised him instantly.
The old man had a smile in his eyes. Seconds later, a sad, troubled look washed over his entire face when he realised how he knew the man standing in front of him. It was the voice that told Philip as a teenager to take off his shoes and socks and unbutton his pants. To lie down on the examination table and close his eyes. The voice that told Philip to relax and insisted he was safe. The voice that counted down from 10 to lull him into a state of hypnosis. And it was the same voice that threatened him when, after more than three years of organised sessions of sexual abuse, Philip put an end to the torture.
As well as his dental practice, he refereed junior soccer matches and participated in local events. Mrs Schwarz and her children are not accused of any wrongdoing. He was awarded a citizenship citation in for his community contributions and drove the heritage bus around the city in his old age. But Schwarz had a dark, twisted secret.
He used his position to facilitate his sickening fantasies. A skilled hypnotist, Schwarz placed his young victims in a trance and made them his puppets. Werner Otto Schwarz was heavily involved in community sports into his old age. Supplied For years, Schwarz maintained the image of a perfect family man. Supplied Last week the former doctor was sentenced to a maximum of 16 years in prison with a non-parole period of eight years for hypnotising and sexually assaulting young patients at his dental practice in the s.
He was found guilty of 17 sex offences against four boys aged under The youngest victim was nine. The trial sent shockwaves through the town and has divided the small community. Widowed, her husband died seven years ago of a broken heart. Schwarz was celebrated in the region for using hypnosis techniques as a substitute for needles and anaesthetic to manage pain in dental procedures. He recalls watching on sometimes as his boss placed a subject in a hypnotic state in just a matter of minutes.
Philip was told hypnosis could help him relax and alleviate a stubborn habit of bed wetting. But it created problems far worse. It was a strong putrid smell. Even his hands stunk. Just another adult who was trusted by my parents. Supplied Now 51, Philip still suffers the trauma inflicted by Schwarz.
Supplied He attended the second visit alone and Schwarz used hypnosis for pain management purposes during a routine dental procedure. The next session was just days later. It was after-hours, when other staff at the surgery had gone home. He remembers it smelt like disinfectant and even now the smell gives Philip chills.
The dentist told the boy to take off his shoes and socks and undo his belt before directing him to lay down on the examination bed. Philip closed his eyes and the hypnosis began. Relax, imagine the beach, the boy was told. Schwarz instructed him to think about palm trees and the sound of the ocean. He began to count down from 10, telling the boy he was feeling deeper, relaxed and more sleepy at each number. Philip Wright recalls the layout of the Barney Street in a sketch for the investigation.
Now, Schwarz was cold, clinical. He sent the boy home. Did I put myself in this situation? Supplied For more than three years, Philip would ride to the Barney Street surgery, park his bike at the back of the building as instructed and chain it to a downpipe.
The abuse in each session continued in the familiar, repetitive pattern. Counting, palm trees, oceans. Sometimes it progressed further. And on some occasions, Philip says there was another man in the room. Under hypnosis, Philip sometimes sensed Schwarz walk to the door and let another person inside.
He never saw a face. The person stood in the periphery. He could hear the voice of a man instructing the dentist. But sometimes, Philip recognised the voice of a particular man.
It was the voice of a man who had abused him before. Because this would not be good for you if it got out. It drove a wedge between him and his parents and at 16 he moved out of home and was living at De La Salle Brothers.
Other boys at school or around town would look at each other. And they would know. Supplied The former dentist is sentenced to 16 years in prison with a non-parole period of eight years. Supplied The court heard from three other victims who detailed the abuse they suffered at the hands of Schwarz. The youngest was nine when he first saw the dentist and endured fortnightly visits for two years. The abuse escalated, with the victim recalling how he felt scared, paralysed and robotic in those terrifying moments.
Since then, he has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and suffers psychosis, according to court documents. He obsessively picks his skin and thinks people are following him.
They barely knew each other. But their shared suffering brought them together. The details of those steps to end the abuse are too hard for Philip to talk about.
Philip remembers the afternoon he put an end to it. He remembers peddling aimlessly around the streets of the small town. I was very nervous about what would happen next. Philip says he told a priest in the Catholic Church and the Armidale police in the late s but nothing happened. Family and friendships have been destroyed. In he told his parents in limited detail about the abuse and it left them shattered.
His professional life has suffered. Traumatised, he has only been to the dentist five times since Schwarz and had a tooth collapse with a nerve exposed. On his darkest days, Philip has been suicidal. Prompted by the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse he decided to go back to the police one final time in Detectives from the Sex Crimes Squad formed Strike Force Holbeach and Philip was asked by investigators to approach his abuser in and secretly record the confrontation.
His facial expressions changed. Schwarz is questioned by police during the lengthy investigation. Supplied Philip looked him in the eye. Inside, Philip asked his abuser one simple question: And then you abused me. Schwarz acted puzzled and stumbled: As the former dentist continued to insist he had no recollections of the events, Philip reminded his abuser in exact detail how those afternoons in the back room played out over three years. A maximum of 16 years in prison with a non-parole period of eight years.
The privileged life that protected him for decades was in tatters. Once seen as a hardworking, trusted resident in the small country town, the skilfully constructed act was no longer fooling everyone. With Schwarz appearing on video link and dressed in prison greens, the four boys looked at the monster that abused them. And for the first time, they were in control. Young people aged 5 to 25 years can call Kids Helpline on 55 Supplied trending in lifestyle.