Adrian Timothy's story

Adrian’s mum died from a drug overdose when he was four years old, and he never knew his dad. The Department of Community Services (DOCS) became involved, and Adrian was sent to live with his grandmother for several years.

In the early 1970s Adrian attended a boys’ club in Sydney’s inner suburbs. He met Paul Evans, a man who was giving classes there, and they became close.

When Adrian was around nine years old, Evans applied to be his carer (with his grandmother’s consent). As part of this, Adrian was made a state ward, and spent a bit of time in a juvenile detention facility. ‘It was sort of just part of the process, so he could foster me. He couldn’t foster me straight from Nan’s place.’

Adrian came to call Evans ‘Dad’, and took his surname. Toby Starling, a Catholic priest and ‘very close friend of my foster father’s, and his family’, would visit their home around twice a week. Evans knew Starling from his childhood, having met him at a church he attended.

Starling would use his visits to sexually abuse Adrian in his bedroom. Starling would come in and lie down next to Adrian on his bed, while Adrian pretended to be asleep. He would then fondle Adrian while touching himself, and masturbate until he ejaculated.

The abuse ended when Adrian was around 13.

‘I’d never ejaculated before. And I remember ejaculating in my bed, and then when I woke up he was just there, smiling at me. And I lost it. I screamed at him to get out.’

Starling visited the home less frequently after this incident. Adrian lived with Evans until he ran away when he was 15. He didn’t disclose what Starling had done because he didn’t think anyone would believe him.

Despite being in the care of the state, Adrian ended up living on the streets. He did not have any contact with DOCS over this time. At some point, he resided with a man called Barry Frost, who also gave him employment.

Adrian stayed with Frost for a number of months, during which Frost sexually abused him. He did not tell anyone about the abuse. Afterwards he lived on the streets for many years, and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.

‘By the time I was 16, I was more getting into the alcohol ... I was sort of using the alcohol to stop what I was thinking. And then after a period of time, the abuse wasn’t the major problem. The alcohol became the major problem ... And just sort of the abuse went away.’

Adrian told the Commissioner about the destructive impacts the abuse had on him. ‘It’s stopped me functioning as a person ... I’ve never been able to hold down jobs, I’ve never been able to really talk to people. I’ve just gone into myself, I’ve had depression – severe depression, and anxiety, and more recently post-traumatic stress. It’s ruined me, basically.’

In his late 30s Adrian began a rehabilitation program for his substance abuse. After this he sought ongoing support from a psychologist, and memories of the abuse came back. He is now on medication for his anxiety and depression. ‘Before that, I was treating it with alcohol. I was in denial.’

Some years ago Adrian told Evans about the abuse by Starling – and discovered Evans had been molested by the priest as a child too.

‘I found out that Starling had done the same, a similar thing to my father, at the age of 16. But I didn’t understand that until I started disclosing all this information ...

‘I said, look this is what he’s done. And my foster father sort of spun out a bit, and he said, "Well I couldn’t prove anything, but I was a bit suspicious of him, you know what I mean. Because he’s done this to me as well".’

Evans eventually received some compensation from the Church for this abuse. Adrian has contacted police in relation to the sexual assaults by Starling and Frost, and both matters are currently under investigation. He has not made any civil litigation claims as yet.

Adrian told the Commissioner that kids could be better protected by having checks done not just on foster carers themselves, but also on people they associate with. ‘I know that paedophiles and that in some cases are close to the family, like Starling was.’

He suggested that authorities (like DOCS) in charge of looking after children in care should be more present, check in more with them about how they are doing, and they should ‘get psychologists involved with the children as well’.

Finally, kids should understand what sexual abuse is, and how to report it. ‘No-one should touch a kid ever in their private areas or anything like that ... Kids should know that that’s wrong, and they should be able to speak up about it. And not sort of clam up like I did.’

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