Artie Paul's story

‘If you’re vulnerable, no matter what gender you are or where you are, you can become the subject of abuse or taken advantage of.’

Artie’s dad drank most of the family income, causing considerable financial strain, but his mum tried to keep up their standards even when they were struggling to eat. Even though Artie got good grades at school, he had low self-esteem, and his dad was always very critical of his efforts.

His parents did not attend church but made him go to their local Anglican Sunday school in regional New South Wales, and he then became an altar boy at church services. The other altar boys’ parents were ‘very churchy, and were at the church’. When his ‘very religious’ uncle who lived in Sydney found out he was serving at the church he advised him to ‘be careful – he knew that there was homosexuality going on’.

Through the church Artie came into contact with Mr Jameson, who was completing his seminary training there in the early 1960s. Artie was already friends with Jameson’s brother and knew his parents too.

‘He was a very confident person, he spoke very well, people thought highly of him and his family.’

Jameson singled Artie out for attention. One time when Artie was around 13 he confided in Jameson about family difficulties he was having, and they went walking together. They stopped at a railway cutting and Jameson asked Artie to masturbate him.

Over the next two years Jameson sexually abused Artie multiple times, eventually raping him. This abuse occurred in Jameson’s car and in his home, and he used money, cigarettes and gifts to entice Artie – whose family lived extremely frugally because of his dad’s drinking – into complying.

Jameson continued to abuse Artie for a short while after he was ordained and moved to a nearby parish. The abuse took place in the new rectory. ‘I was wanting out ... but I didn’t know how to go about it.’

When Artie was in his mid-teens he stopped attending church, telling his parents that the demands of school, sport, and his part-time job were taking up his time. The rector visited his house a couple of times asking why he had stopped going to services, but he was not home to answer. He did not disclose the abuse as he didn’t think anyone would believe him.

For many years Artie tried to bury memories of the abuse.

‘It’s only in recent years I’ve realised the impact it’s had in various areas of my life.’

He felt that he had been ‘prostituting myself’ by accepting the gifts and money – ‘even though he was dangling the carrots, I was taking them’.

Artie found it hard to make friends with men, and had trouble with intimate relationships with women. ‘I was confused for decades, the difference between sex and love, this that and the other.’ He experienced sexual dysfunction as sex ‘reminds me of things [Jameson] wanted to do’.

He was confused about religion too. ‘You’d be listening to “God loves you, and God will protect you” and da da da, and you think well, he wasn’t doing much.’

Working long hours he made sure his home, garden and cars were kept perfectly, and came to realise he had picked up his mother’s perfectionist habits. After his second divorce he started drinking and listening to loud music. Later he realised he had been trying to drown everything out, including his self-doubt and his memories. ‘Quite often things are going on in your life but you don’t realise until later on down the track what was going on.’

A few years ago, Artie said, ‘I happened to hear a news flash on Channel 7 and they mentioned Jameson. Well, the bells went ringing, and I decided to try and get in contact with the Commission.’

Artie rang the police, who advised him to contact a local detective. They told him that Jameson went on to be a prolific offender but is now deceased. He believes he was one of the priest’s first victims. ‘I’m convinced he did his apprenticeship with me’.

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