Edmund John's story

Edmund was angry when his parents separated and his dad took off. When he was a teenager in the mid-1970s he began to hang around with older kids near his home in Sydney. Their trouble making landed him in court and then, for a short stretch of time, in a St Vincent’s Boys’ Home when he was 14.

Edmund was playing sport on the oval with other boys from the home when a car pulled up. The boys started running over to it and urged Edmund to come with them. ‘This bloke will give us some money’, they told him.

‘There was a guy in the driver’s seat with a big smile on his face and saying hello to us all … He started to hand out five and 10 dollar notes to all the boys that were there.’

The man told Edmund his name was Paul and handed him some money as well. Edmund didn’t think any more about it. He certainly didn’t realise he was being groomed.

One weekend, Edmund saw Paul again when he was about to catch the bus home. ‘He was waiting for me outside ... and offered me a lift home.’ It was a long bus trip so Edmund accepted.

They stopped off at Paul’s place along the way. ‘That’s where he started to sweet talk me … He ended up sexually assaulting me in his bedroom.’

Edmund hadn’t had any sexual contact before and he was very confused. All he knew was that a man significantly older than him was giving him love and attention. And more money.

‘I remember being excited about getting the money, and sick in my gut on the other hand about what had just happened.’

The man drove him home and Edmund deliberately gave him the wrong address.

‘Then he latched onto me.’

Paul waited for him after school one day then drove him to a nearby park. He took Edmund into the back of his station wagon and sexually assaulted him. The car had curtains and a mattress. Edmund remembers how painful the assault was, and how shocking. ‘I tried to blank out what was happening.’

Paul sexually abused him a third time and Edmund was given more money. He’s not sure if there were more times. He suspects there were.

Paul told Edmund he had to go away for work for a while. While he was away, on the spur of the moment, Edmund ran off. He and another boy hitchhiked inland but the police found them and brought them back.

By now Edmund was taking drugs with other kids at the home. After he ran away again, the Marist Brothers told his mother to take him back or he’d go into a state-run institution. So she did.

But Edmund kept up the drug habit he’d started and after a short time his mum threw him out. It wasn’t long before drug addiction and crime ‘became a way of life’.

For years, Edmund took drugs and stole to pay for his addiction. He was in and out of boys’ homes and prison. He believes that his parents’ divorce was a factor in all of this but the sexual abuse ‘was certainly a major contributor’.

In his mid-20s Edmund started going to rehab. One day during a meeting he had a panic attack. ‘I went and grabbed a counsellor and knew what I had to talk about. And it was the sexual abuse. And it all just blurted out.’

When Edmund met someone who’d been sexually abused at the same boys’ home he began to dissect what had happened and wondered how Paul had such easy access to the grounds at St Vincent’s.

‘How was he not spotted? Where was the supervision? … How was he able to just have the confidence to drive onto that property?’

Edmund realised in retrospect that Paul knew things about him that no one else did. How did Paul know when he was going on weekend leave and what school he went to?

He’s haunted by the thought that someone at the home was helping Paul find boys to abuse and he wants it investigated.

Edmund has contacted Towards Healing about his sexual abuse and is still trying to formally identify the man who was his abuser. He has also filed a formal report with the New South Wales Sex Crimes Squad.

The formation of the Royal Commission was a catalyst for Edmund to contact the Church. ‘I wanted to go to the Catholic Church first … I’m a Christian. I want to engage with other Christians and give them the opportunity to do their own investigations.’

He’s also interested in compensation. He wonders about the career that he could have had as well the relationships he couldn’t sustain because he was emotionally sick.

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