‘I told my parents when I was 14, and I started telling certain of my close friends from the age of about 19, in sporadic situations; and then sort of opened right up when I was 36. A lot more people found out because, as I talked about it more, it became a lot easier to be able to talk about it.’
In the mid 1980s, Aden was on an overnight excursion with classmates from his Sydney Catholic school when a Christian Brother, Norman Foster, came into the dormitory and performed oral sex on him. Foster then moved to the boy in the next bed and did the same to him. Aden said the sight of his friend being abused was something that still haunted him.
‘It was probably the worst thing of what’s happened’, he said. ‘It’s what I saw, it’s not what happened to me. That's had more of an impact on me, the visual, I think. When it’s up close, it’s all a bit fuzzy; but he was in the bed over there, just one or two metres away from me, and it was clear as day.’
Aden thought that all 30 boys in his class were abused during the time Foster was at the school. When word went around that a father had complained about his son being abused, the reaction of the principal, also a Christian Brother, ‘wasn’t fantastic’, Aden said. Blame was placed on the parents who were seen as troublesome and the boy ended up leaving the school.
A few years later, talk about Foster’s many abuses was circulating in the community. When his mother asked Aden if he knew anyone who’d been abused, he told her that it had happened to him.
‘Dad was there at the time and Mum said, “Are you okay?” I went, “Yeah, okay, I suppose”. I’m 14. And that was it.
'And then when I was 36, Mum and Dad said, “Oh yeah, we should have done a bit more”, and apologised, tried to explain to me that they had done stuff. And I said, “Well, it would have been good if you told me that you did it, because I spent the past 22 years thinking that you didn’t give a fuck. And that’s why our relationship’s been reasonably strained and I often am aggressive towards you, because I felt like you just deserted me when I needed it.”’
Aden told the Commissioner he had doubts about his mother’s account because it wasn’t until two weeks after their initial talk in 2009 that she thought to let him know she’d gone to the principal and demanded action. Aden thought she’d made it up.
The 2009 discussion exacerbated behaviours Aden had been engaging in since leaving school. At the same time as embarking on a successful corporate career, and marrying and having children, he’d been visiting sex workers as a way of managing his anxiety. He estimated that he had spent about a quarter of a million dollars over the years paying for sex.
‘I have always lived by the motto that no one’s ever going to fuck me over again’, he said. ‘And I suspect that’s been driven by what happened there … There was never any self-harm done.
'It didn’t really kick in until I had money. But once I had the financial means, my method of dealing with severe anxiety was to go off and sleep with prostitutes, which I would have done over a thousand times or something. I don’t know how many I’ve done.
'That was a mechanism of managing the anxiety because, at the time of the encounter, I had a severe anxious reaction to it and a sexual reaction to it. So whenever I got very anxious, my method of dealing with it was a sexual approach, and so I became extremely sexually active.’
Aden said that he’d recently started seeing a counsellor and was finding it helpful, particularly in examining past patterns of behaviour.
‘I’d always historically found it easier to talk to women, so when we first met I was a bit uncomfortable because it was a male in the room. But I think in hindsight that was the right move, given – what became evident throughout the session was – that I was seeing females as a sexual object; you’re there because I need to use you to have sex with you.
'It was, to be honest, how I looked at females. That was it, nothing from an emotional, friendly way. So he was very good in that sense to start to teach me how to understand and appreciate females in a different way. Much different now.’
Aden said he’d never reported Foster to NSW Police but was thinking of doing so, particularly since he’d recently heard that numerous charges were being brought against the now 70-year-old Christian Brother.
‘Just send him to jail for 50 years. That’ll do. He’s a monster.’