Alan is a whistleblower who was also a victim of sexual abuse himself. His own case, he said, ‘wasn’t that bad’, and for much of his life he assumed that other boys had had a similar experience. Only after he joined the ‘old boys union’ later in life did he come to realise that many of his ex-classmates had suffered extreme abuses with grievous life-long consequences.
Alan’s school was one of several colleges run by the Marist Brothers in Sydney in the 1950s. Physical abuse at these schools was rife, he said. A certain degree of sexual abuse was considered normal as well.
‘I was pre-pubescent so I didn’t know what was going on. The first time I came across anything was – I was always at the front of the class and there was Brother D’Ambrosio and he used to get the blokes on his knees and play with their genitals. And I didn’t know anything was wrong.’
Similarly, when Alan was ‘touched up’ by two other Brothers, he didn’t understand that he was being abused. Both incidents took place under the guise of a medical examination. First there was Brother Rowen who massaged Alan’s leg after an injury. Later, when Alan suffered from an itchy scrotum and the doctor prescribed a cream, Brother Carter insisted on applying the cream to Alan himself.
Personally, Alan didn’t think he was much affected by these events. He did well at school, went to university early and managed to build a successful legal career. He’s now applying his legal skills to his work with the old boys union, bringing to light some of the crimes, injustices and cover-ups that have taken place within the Marist Brothers order and the Catholic Church more broadly.
In a written statement Alan told the Commission about dozens of incidents of molestation, rape, drugging of students, threats and bashings. He detailed how these incidents had ruined the lives of many men, in some cases even leading to suicide.
However, Alan warned against the dangers of tarring all clergy with the same brush. He said:
‘One must always be aware that the vast majority of Marist Brothers I knew were amongst the best and most dedicated persons and best teachers I have ever met. Only a few were the paedophiles.’
He’s planning to keep a careful eye on those ‘few’ and the corrupt minority who facilitate and protect them. ‘It’s what I do’, he said. ‘Keep them all in line.’