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Adam's story

Adam said that until he was sent to boarding schools in the early 1950s at the age of eight, he was a happy child whose parents loved him. He told the Commissioner that he enjoyed playing as a child plays, with ‘butterflies, beetles and insects … basically animals and living things, plus interesting leaves, rocks, etc’.

Adam started at a Jesuit college in Sydney in the mid-1950s, at the age of 12. He told the Commissioner that there was frequent corporal punishment and that he usually did not know why he was being punished.

One day, Father John, who later became the headmaster, had been watching him play-fight with another boy in the playground. The priest summoned Adam to accompany him to a small sports storage room. He locked the door, sat on a chair and made Adam stand in front of him. John said ‘Eh, eh, eh, boy … did he try to knee you in the privates?’ He then unzipped Adam’s fly, put his hand inside his pants and fondled Adam’s testicles.

Adam asked him to stop. ‘I was very shaken up, but knew … I couldn’t tell anyone.’

After this, John acted as if nothing had happened. He regularly strapped Adam who said he appeared to get pleasure from it. Adam said that he just held out his hand to be punished and behaved as if it didn’t hurt him at all. He said, it was ‘basically, fuck you, John’. Adam’s grades at school plummeted.

On another occasion, Father Michaels, who was the headmaster at that time, summoned Adam to a room he had never seen before. Michaels locked the door and made Adam sit on a chair opposite him.

‘He pulled his chair closer to me, put his right leg between mine and clamped my right leg between his legs. He put his hands on my right leg and started to slide his hands up and down my leg. At the same time, he said to me “You’ve been accused of cheating in the exams”.

'I was surprised and I said, "I didn’t cheat, Father!” At that point, his right hand had reached my testicles and I pulled away. He stopped and said, “That’s alright then”, sat back and we stood up. I don’t remember if he said any more, but he unlocked the door and I left.’

Adam described how he has struggled all his life to come to terms with his treatment at the hands of the priests. He is suspicious of authority, has anger management issues, and has spent his life swinging in and out of depression. He has been unable to keep a steady job, and has used alcohol and drugs to block out his difficulties.

About 10 years ago Adam was awarded $20,000 compensation by Victims of Crime for the priests’ sexual assaults. He believes that the Royal Commission may help him reach some closure of the feelings he still struggles to contain.

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