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Cal's story

‘I was wrenched away from my loving family for something so petty. I can still see my dear mother running alongside the train on the platform crying all the time until we were out of sight.’

At the age of 12 in the mid-1950s, Cal and a couple of other boys broke into a shop in Victoria and stole some cigarettes and lollies. When his father found out, he took Cal to the local police station, but ‘didn’t know how bad it’d turn out’.

Over the next five years, Cal was sent between boys’ homes, a juvenile justice reception centre and at one stage, Pentridge Prison. He experienced severe and repeated sexual assaults in all places except the prison.

Staff at the first home were violent and cruel. Cal remembered 13 different workers who slapped, belted and ‘bashed’ him. He was also raped separately by two older boys.

For a time, Cal was sent to a home run by the Christian Brothers, a place he called ‘hell on earth’.

‘It was run by filthy, fucking paedophile Brother Collins who sodomised me on numerous occasions’, Cal said. ‘I really can’t say how many times. It must have been at least 20. A really very cruel man, filthy fucking pig.

‘Another filthy pig was Brother Gibson. He used to strap me stupid, take me and make me masturbate him quite often. I started to wet the bed at that shithole. In the morning if you wet the bed we had to have a 10 minute freezing cold shower. If we didn’t stay under the shower the bastards would hit us with a leather strap. You can imagine the pain. I don’t know how many times I ran away, absconded.’

Whenever Cal was found within the vicinity of the home, he’d be taken straight back, but on one occasion he made it to Melbourne where he gave himself up to police and was returned to the first boys’ home, which was better than the other ‘hell hole’.

Briefly, he went to school and ‘everything was going good’, but then ‘another filthy paedophile started’ on him. This man would make him hold two telephone books straight out in front of him and laugh as Cal had tears running down his face. One day Cal refused and that evening the staff member came to his bed and made him masturbate him.

‘Not long after that I was in the linen room and he came in and locked the door. He slapped my face, made me take my shorts off and sodomised me against my will. I can’t remember how many times he sodomised me.’

One day, Cal saw the man berating another boy. ‘I knew then that he was doing the same thing with the phone books and picking on him. I felt bad for him but elated for myself as I knew he was going to leave me alone.’

At one stage, Cal was placed in a boys’ home run by the Franciscan Brothers. He was physically abused there and recalled an incident where an unknown priest tried to sexually assault him, but Cal pushed him away.

Returned once again to the government-run boys’ home, Cal became involved one night in a ‘melee’. Furniture and items were thrown at guards and when police arrived they picked out six boys, including Cal, and took them to Russell Street police station and then to Pentridge.

‘To me it was a very a frightening experience. I was scared shitless’, Cal said. ‘I was there for a fortnight. As we were too young to mix with the other prisoners we were put in the condemned yard and I was in the cell next to the gallows, which caused me to have nightmares for many years.’

In his late teens, Cal left the system. Within the next two or three years, he was given a 12 month sentence for stealing a car but while on parole found work and a place to live. Even so, he found himself being ‘recognised’ by police who’d stop and question him for no apparent reason. One day he was picked up and asked if he wanted to be charged with ‘larceny, vagrancy or illegal use’. When he replied he didn’t want any of them, the police officer told him he’d be charged with all three.

‘So I said, “I’ll have vagrancy”, ‘cause I thought I’d be all right.’ He was then sentenced to seven months in prison.

Cal said he’d last been in jail in 1969. It was his ‘gem of a wife’ who’d stopped him from committing further crimes. In spite of him giving his wife ‘hell over the years with me drinking’, they’ve been together for nearly five decades and are happy with their large family of children and grandchildren.

Cal eventually stopped drinking altogether, and over the years has told his wife about ‘the beltings’ in the boys’ homes but ‘not the other bit’. Until speaking with the Royal Commission, he’d never disclosed the sexual abuse to anyone.

‘I kept it in for 60 years. I would never have told anyone. I think that, if you’re like, as a man, if your mates knew anything like that, Jesus, what could you say?’

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