In the late 1970s, Alby’s family moved to a suburb in north Melbourne. They weren’t regular churchgoers, but after Alby’s mother was befriended by Catholic parish priest, Father Morrison, it was decided that Alby should make his communion.
Alby was in his mid-teens when he started to have private sessions with Father Morrison. ‘It was a very relaxed and calm sort of environment where you felt almost obligated to tell him what you were doing’, Alby said. ‘And he had this manner that I suppose was engaging as a kid - that somebody was listening to you. He obviously would have known our circumstances when I look back in hindsight. He would have known I came from a broken family, that my father was in and out of jail. He’d know about my mother’s problems, so knowing what I know now about life and how people work and how people operate, I know why, how, I would have been a perfect fit and target as victim. I would have fit straight into that mould.’
At the first session, Morrison told Alby he had to confess his sins. After several episodes of benign questioning, the priest asked Alby if he masturbated, and then made him take off his clothes to demonstrate. The priest then started touching Alby.
‘That was the first time I felt it wasn’t right’, Alby said. ‘But it’s like you’re powerless to do anything. It’s hard to describe. Because of the authority this person had.’
Over the next few months, the sexual abuse included oral sex and anal rape. When Alby disclosed it to his mother, she didn’t believe him.
About this time, Morrison came to the house to encourage Alby and his sister to visit a farm the Catholic Church owned outside Melbourne. Alby’s mother insisted the children go, but Alby refused and ran away from home. He dropped out of school and began sleeping on friends’ lounges, going from one place to another ‘in the wilderness’.
In his late teens, Alby became an emergency services worker, and in the early 1980s, was involved in a critical incident that required him to see a psychologist before returning to work.
‘I tried to disclose the abuse to him’, Alby said. ‘And then he starts rubbing my leg during the session, and it just took me back nearly five, six years. When that happened - it was very difficult to tell anybody anyway because of the environment in which we were working. It was a very male-dominated environment where if I told anybody about this, I would have been seen as being gay, I would have been ostracised by people that I worked with, and I couldn’t afford for that to happen. I saw this as an opportunity perhaps to tell somebody, to get some help, because I don’t know if I ever dealt with it properly.’
Alby said that because the psychologist held a senior rank, and because reporting of colleagues was discouraged, he was never able to tell anyone what had happened in the session.
In the mid 1980s, Alby came across Morrison in the course of his work and organised with colleagues that he be left alone with the priest. ‘He recognised me’, Alby said. ‘I told him what he’d done to me. He was looking at me but he was looking through me, like I was glass. He just looked at me and continued to look at me as I talked. He really didn’t say much. It was me doing all the talking. Of course, I wanted to shout, “Show me justice”, to him because he robbed me of my innocence, he robbed me of my childhood. That’s what I wanted to do, but I was also very careful about things and realised that sort of thing - I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
'But I told him that he basically, I used the words: “You fucked my life up. You destroyed my life. You have no idea what you’ve done to me”.’
About five years ago, Alby was using high levels of prescription drugs, and his marriage came to an end. After hearing media reports about the Royal Commission, he reported the abuse by Morrison to police in Victoria.
The priest was then serving the final months of a jail term for child sex offences, but a formal statement by police in relation to Alby’s statement meant that Morrison’s eligibility for parole was revoked. A few weeks after the charges were laid, Morrison died in jail.
‘I’ve been robbed of an opportunity to see Morrison in court’, Alby said. ‘And I’m hoping that others - whether or not it’s the Church, or whether or not it’s any other institution - get their opportunity.’