Ever since he was a small boy Aleks loved attending Sunday school with his brother, Justin, and friends. He adored the cartoons about God and the Bible, but most of all he loved his pastor.
In the mid-1980s, when Aleks was six, he and Justin were baptised as Catholics. Their new church was not far from their home in Victoria and it was here Aleks met parish priest Father Horan.
Aleks soon came to realise Horan was going to be a part of their life. The priest baptised the boys, coached them in sport, and also started a youth group.
Horan would often favour Aleks and Justin and give them treats. He was a ‘cool’ priest, and Aleks was in awe of him.
One afternoon after youth group, when all the other boys had gone, Horan took Aleks and Justin to his private room.
Aleks remembers Horan laying on his back before asking him to come closer. The priest grabbed his hand and placed it on his penis. ‘His sperm went all over my hand. I can remember the salty smell and it was sticky.’
Aleks was frozen with fear and didn’t know what to do. Horan then did the same thing to Justin. The priest threatened the boys not to say anything or their parents would punish them. Their father was very strict and they didn’t want to get in trouble.
‘I thought we were doing the right thing at the time … It was our little secret. He told us not to tell anyone, he said if we did we would get into trouble.’
For the next four years Aleks and Justin were sexually abused by Horan. Sometimes this would happen to Aleks alone, sometimes to Aleks and his brother at the same time. Aleks remembers this abuse occurring at Horan’s house, the youth club, and in the back room at their sports centre. The boys often slept over at Horan’s house on weekends.
‘We ended up in his bed with him: Father Horan, Justin and I. He would take turns on having sex with both of us … He would kick me out of his room and I slept in a separate room while Justin stayed in his room all night long. I can only imagine what he went through in the night.’
The abuse stopped when Aleks turned 11. Horan didn’t coach him or Justin again and was distant from them. Aleks hated that he wasn’t close with the priest anymore, and both boys dropped out of youth group and sport soon after.
In his mid-teens Aleks was contacted by police and asked if Horan had sexually abused him. Aleks told them it happened only once. He was too ashamed and frightened to say it continued for years.
‘It’s probably the hardest thing I ever had to do: give a statement against my friend, teacher and [coach] … Sometimes I wish I just kept my mouth shut.’
When Horan went to trial he was charged with sexually abusing a large number of children. Aleks did his best in court, kept his cool and answered only to the judge. He did not want to look at the priest.
But Aleks he couldn’t remember the exact date of the abuse he’d reported, Horan was acquitted of the charge relating to him.
‘I was thinking “you scumbag fucking paedophile dog”. I just wanted to run across the courtroom and punch the cunt in the mouth … It took a lot of fucking guts to go to court and testify. I gave everything I had and it still wasn’t good enough.’
In the 1990s, after being homeless and addicted to drugs, Justin passed away. His death caused Aleks a lot of pain, and he started taking drugs, too.
His drug habit forced him into crime, and then to jail. He’s tried to end his life several times, and has been sexually confused ever since the abuse.
But when he spoke to the Commissioner Aleks had started going back to church, to rediscover the connection he had as a child. He’s asked his priest if he could be baptised again, to wash away the sins of Horan.
‘I wish I can feel comfortable walking to church and not feel alone. I want to enjoy what I missed out on all those years [ago]. I want to get back my trust and faith. It’s time to believe and feel loved again.’