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Archie James's story

Archie was born into a large Catholic family in Tasmania in the early 1970s. His father was a violent alcoholic and it was difficult for his mother to care for the children. The family struggled financially so they had strangers stay in their home for money. Archie was sexually abused by one of these visitors when he was six years old.

By the time he was eight, Archie and his siblings had either been ‘given’ to other members of the family or placed in state care. His older sisters went to stay with an aunt nearby, and he was sent to a Catholic boys’ home.

The home’s manager, Ryan Grant, was a ‘cruel’ man. He often beat up the boys when they misbehaved and was known to deny family visiting privileges.

Adam Bayer, a caretaker, was one of the few adults who stayed on duty overnight at the home. Bayer slept in a separate room, and Archie knew he liked to take boys there. Bayer also helped the boys get ready for school in the morning, handing out soap and hair products before he stood aside and watched the boys shower. Archie saw Bayer masturbating while looking at naked boys numerous times.

Bayer sexually abused and raped Archie several times over a period of seven years. He would get Archie to help him complete tasks before asking for sexual favours.

‘He would say, “Archie, we will go down to the yacht and you can help me paint the yacht. I’ve got a few things to fix up down there”. He had other staff that would be there when he would take me because it was his day off … He would give me lollies and it made me feel uncomfortable.’

To this day, Archie believes that the female workers knew about Bayer. Archie disclosed the abuse by Bayer to Grant when he was 14 years old. Grant said he was lying and then beat him up. Archie said Grant ‘burnt up’ his complaint and decided to punish him further by not allowing his mother to visit.

‘He said to me, “You made a complaint against [Bayer], I don’t see that as necessary. What happens in this home, stays in the home”.’

When Archie was 15 he went to live with his older sister in Melbourne. A few years later he was ‘bashed’ by a policeman who accused him of a burglary. His sister reported the assault and the police officer was charged with the offence.

Archie never finished school. Most of his adolescence was spent participating in criminal activities, and he has been in and out of jail since the late 1980s. He abused drugs and alcohol throughout his life, and wanted to participate in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs whilst he served his time in jail.

In the late 2000s Archie received counselling. This was the first time he disclosed the details of his abuse as an adult. He has been diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Archie still suffers from nightmares and often has a hard time sleeping. He has been unable to sustain relationships and has low self-esteem.

He has never received a proper education and has a borderline intellectual disability. Now in his late 40s, he is unable to read or write. He feels ‘vulnerable’ and has been housed with sex offenders and paedophiles in jail, which he finds deeply insulting.

In the early 2010s, Archie reported Bayer to the police while he was in jail. The police never got back to him. He believes that Bayer is still alive and living in Tasmania. Archie has received compensation and is considering seeking further compensation once he has been released from jail.

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