Arthur grew up in a large Catholic family in New South Wales in the 1930s. His father was a merchant seaman and was often absent, but ‘whenever I saw him he was as drunk as anything, you know and … he would be abusing my mother and throwing plates of food at her and all that sort of thing’. His mother stayed with her abusive husband because of her children.
Arthur attended a high school run by the Christian Brothers and it was there that he was sexually abused by Brother Cassidy. Boys like Arthur who didn’t want to participate in sport were allowed to play around on the tennis court that adjoined the school. Brother Cassidy would often be there, talking to Arthur and other boys.
Arthur told the Commissioner that he was walking back to school from the tennis court with Brother Cassidy one day and he stopped to use the toilet that adjoined the bowling green. ‘And that’s the first time he touched me … but then, it just seemed to spread from there.’
Brother Cassidy began sexually abusing Arthur regularly. ‘I’d say “That’s rude, that’s rude”, and he says, “No, no. It’s only rude when you do it with girls … It’s not a sin. It’s only a sin when you do it with girls and you’re not married”.’ Arthur was 12 years old at the time and ‘I don’t know anything about all this sort of stuff … All I know is that I was having sex with him, and I wasn’t the only one’.
Arthur told the Commissioner he ‘thought it was okay to do it … when he did oral sex on me, I mean, I didn’t mind that. It felt good … what was I supposed to think? And of course, I let him do it. And that spread to penetration, you know … and I’ve grown up with that’. At 18 Arthur was arrested and labelled a ‘sex monster’ for doing ‘what I was oriented to doing by the Christian Brothers’.
When Arthur was just under the age that he could legally leave school, he told his father about the abuse and ‘he belted the living daylights out of me’. When his father left to go off on another ship, his mother obtained an exemption for him to leave school, but ‘unfortunately, the habit was there’. Arthur has spent much of his life in and out of jail, ‘and I can blame Catholicism for it all’.
Arthur told the Commissioner that nobody ever asked him why he offended. ‘Nobody cares. All they’re concerned about is what you’ve done. You’re a filthy little sex monster.’ It has taken Arthur years ‘to be able to live with myself. Why do I do these things? And I say to myself, “I know quite well. Thank you Catholicism” … If I’d been sent to a public school, it probably wouldn’t have happened’.
‘We learn from our experiences and whatever lesson has to be taught, had to come from your knowledge of my experiences … It just seems to me that there’s people walking around with the cloak of Christ over their shoulders were no better than the people I’m locked up with now. And when the judge sentenced me to jail, little did he know that I’m going to learn in jail … all the things … that he didn’t want me to know. And I just feel that … I just wished I wasn’t bloody born.’
Arthur told the Commissioner, ‘I’m at the end of my life and I’ve got to meet my maker. And I don’t know whether there is a maker anymore because as far as I’m concerned … they’re all a load of lying bastards … I don’t care if they let me out. I’m safer in here’.