In the mid-1970s, Aurelio went into Grade 5 at a Christian Brothers college in Western Australia. His father had recently passed away, so family and friends raised the money for the school fees. Aurelio wasn’t very strong academically, but he was accepted as a charity case. ‘So I felt obligated to do well.’
Aurelio first came into contact with the Brothers in Grade 6. ‘And then that’s when a fellow by the name of Brother Glott got involved with the students, and where he started acting inappropriately.’
The following year, Glott’s behaviour became even more predatory. ‘He was always involved with the boys on physical education day, where we had to shower. And we were always very panicked about him being in there … we’d race to get back to the change rooms just to avoid him.’
On one occasion, after Aurelio had already showered, Glott made him stay back until all the other boys had left the room. ‘And he made me shower in front of him again, made me undress, smacked me on the bum. Just stood there in the shower with his hands down his robe … there was many other instances.
‘He’d put his arm around you, and you’d be like sort of trying to push his hand away. And the more you sort of did that, the more he wanted to.
‘It got to a stage, I think it was at a camp, where we were sleeping … he’d go round at night – other Brothers were involved in this, too – and they’d touch you while you’re sleeping.
‘And I didn’t want to say anything because I was being financed to go to this college … that everyone respected. And I hated it, I hated every minute of it.’
One day, Aurelio threatened to tell his mother if Glott touched him again. From then on, the abuse became more physical. He was frequently smacked, whipped with leather belts and once punched in the stomach so hard he couldn’t breathe.
He was able to tell a lay teacher about some of the physical abuse, but she was removed from the school a week later.
In a submission to the Royal Commission, Aurelio wrote that he and others were physically and sexually abused by a number of Brothers for the next few years. They would watch the boys in the shower and masturbate under their robes. Sometimes they would wash the boys, concentrating on their genitals and buttocks. One Brother, Delwyn, exposed himself to Aurelio and asked him to do the same.
In Year 10 Aurelio tried to stand up to the Brothers, warning them to leave him alone. When he was brutally assaulted by a teacher and his mother saw the blood on his shirt, Aurelio was immediately taken out of the college.
But he still wasn’t able to tell her about the sexual abuse. She was a strong woman, and he was frightened that she’d think he was weak for not stopping it. Aurelio was also too ashamed to go to the police.
‘You’re not going to let anyone know, in my era, that you were sexually abused ... people were still calling homosexuals “poofters” and poofter bashing … you wouldn’t go around and tell anyone, “Hey listen, this guy’s been trying to play with me”.’
After leaving school, Aurelio got on with life as best he could. He became a husband and father, devoting himself to his children. When the marriage ended after two decades, he locked himself away and thought often of suicide.
In the early 2010s, he saw stories in the media about the cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. Around this time, Brother Delwyn died while facing charges.
Aurelio has never had counselling nor approached the Church. ‘Reporting those sorts of things can go nowhere with an organisation like what they are. I think that what I’m doing today is part of my duty to be maybe one small piece of machinery that helps the deconstruction of this large machine out there which is still, today, committing crimes against children …
‘An apology would mean nothing from those guys. The abuse has taken place, and that’s real; an apology is saying sorry [and] it needs to be done in action. And the action is: let’s get rid of you guys.’
Aurelio has recently seen a lawyer. If he did receive compensation, he feels it would be for his mother and ‘the trust that was broken’ by the Christian Brothers.
For his own mental wellbeing, Aurelio has no plans to make a statement to police.
‘I’m happy and content with myself today … When you’ve been where I’ve been and been through what I have, it really does toughen you …
‘I try not to get too involved in my emotions. The only things that really bring me back to the emotional side of thinking is when I start thinking how lucky I am to still be alive, and now what can I contribute to make, you know, this place better. And can we remove some of the evil that runs around in this world and win. That’s my determination.’