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Alberto's story

Alberto was 11 years old when his family migrated to Australia in the 1960s. His parents sacrificed a lot financially and personally to leave their country of birth and then enrol their children in Catholic schools. ‘They gave up a lot to live a life of Christian values and to come to a country where it was safe to be a Christian’.

At his new school in Sydney, Alberto was bullied and called names by other students from the time he arrived, so when Father Lloyd took him aside to give him extra tutoring and safeguard his welfare it came as a welcome relief.

‘I used to bite my tongue to stop myself telling my parents that I was being helped by him because he told me not to tell them; it would hurt them. This is before he started doing things. This is just when he was getting information about what my home life was like and what my school life was like.

‘So he knew my mother had a drinking and prescribed medication problem. He knew my father was working really hard to have a second go at being a success. He actually said to not to tell them about the time he and I were spending together because it would hurt them.’

At first the attention was affirming for Alberto but as time progressed, Father Lloyd’s contact became more physical and intimidating – and went from touching and groping to rape.

Through Years 6, 7 and 8, Alberto was repeatedly raped by Father Lloyd. The abuse stopped when one of the Christian Brothers at his school walked into the church adjoining the school and asked Alberto why he was there.

‘I said, “I’m here with Father Lloyd”, and he was behind the door at the time. And he said, “You better get yourself home and I’ll talk to Father Lloyd”. That was the last time I had anything to do with Father Lloyd. We’d see each other at school but I don’t recall any involvement with him.’

Thereafter, the Brother went to great lengths to ensure Alberto and Father Lloyd were never alone together. Looking back, Alberto thinks this was probably ‘a form of damage control’.

In his last years of school, Alberto did well. He was admitted to university but in his second year of tertiary study ‘everything fell apart’. He felt pressured by his parents to succeed and didn’t know why he was failing. For most of a year he locked himself in a university toilet cubicle to avoid going to class.

Despite his difficulties with completing university, Alberto managed to succeed in getting good jobs. He married and had children, however in one senior position he was charged with fraud and his parents had to repay the money to prevent him going to jail. In his next job he did the same thing, diverting money over a period of time into his own account. On that occasion he was charged and convicted, and given a custodial sentence.

Alberto told the Commissioner he’d been first prompted to talk about the abuse after he one day heard someone speaking highly of Father Lloyd. The memories the comments brought forth led to Alberto making a disclosure to his wife who, while supportive, ‘does not want to know the details’. He also told her about an earlier episode of sexual abuse that had occurred when he was seven and still living overseas.

Alberto’s sons know a little of his history and problems with his emotional and mental well-being, and that he has twice attempted suicide.

‘They know about me being hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital on two occasions. They know about me coming home too early from one of those psychiatric periods. They laugh about me waking them up at two o’clock in the morning to get them breakfast for school, and they put it in the context of “that was when Dad was a bit strange”, so yeah we’re pretty open about it.’

Father Lloyd died in 2008. Three years earlier, Alberto had met him while doing some work at the aged care facility the then-retired priest was living in. Alberto asked Lloyd if he remembered him as a student at the school and upon hearing the name, Lloyd ‘shook’ and ‘was uncomfortable’. Alberto had never made a report to police but is bringing a civil claim against the Catholic Church.

In addition to his wife’s loyalty and support, his faith had helped him get through his years in jail. He met a nun who warned him not to ‘get taken in by the undertow’ while he was incarcerated. She told him God wasn’t going to save him by helping him get out of jail.

‘[She said], “He’s going to save you by giving you the grace to survive here”. So that was what got me through that, and that still gets me through now. It’s that type of faith – not so much in the Church in its entirety, just the grace to hang in there.’

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