Adrienne's story

Adrienne came to the Royal Commission on behalf of her son, Caleb, who at 13 in the mid-2000s was groomed by parish priest, Father Kenneth Stavros. At the time, Adrienne and her then-partner were separating and it was a difficult time for the family. She and Caleb accepted Stavros’ kindness and support.

It was only after several months of seeing Caleb off to help Stavros with parish work that Adrienne started to question their connection. She asked Caleb what was happening and he told her about his ‘relationship’ with Stavros, and that the priest had been texting him, had touched him, and had asked Caleb to massage him. Adrienne immediately took Caleb and her other children away from the parish to stay with extended family.

Adrienne took Caleb to the local police station in Victoria to report what she realised was grooming. She was upset that at that time there wasn’t enough evidence to take it further, however she approached Caleb’s school’s principal, who reported events to the town’s diocese.

Despite it being mandatory, Adrienne wasn’t sure if the principal reported it to the department. She decided to take action herself, and contacted police.

Caleb had shown Adrienne images and messages that he and Stavros had been sending each other, and these were shown to police. Adrienne also engaged lawyers to act for her and Caleb.

Adrienne was asked to identify her son’s photographs at the police station, and this was a traumatising experience. She understood that the police didn’t want her son to go through further trauma, but it was a very difficult thing to do.

Adrienne and her family were then isolated from the Church community. She is certain that rumours about her were spread. Adrienne’s children were ostracised at school and weren’t provided with academic support. Her children often got into trouble for the smallest matters.

For four years, Adrienne and the family were victimised by their Catholic community. Adrienne discovered that the priests were ordered to judge her and her family.

Not wanting her children to be around such negativity, Adrienne removed the children from the school and parish. They were then enrolled in a different school, one where the teachers and principal gave much support. She explained that her children have been seriously affected by what has happened.

In the late 2000s, Stavros was charged with child pornography offences. He was given a suspended sentence and placed on the sex offenders register. Adrienne found the trial, as well as events around the matter, stressful and upsetting.

‘My goal was to get that man away from children. That’s all I wanted, I didn’t care about anything else. I’ve seen him with my boys, it left a sickening feeling in me and I just couldn’t let go unless he was on the sex offenders register.’

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