‘He was a bully … We were afraid of him. We knew, I remember in Grade 2, we knew what was coming in a sense of that. Not the sexual abuse, but we were all scared of him. It was like his reputation preceded him, that “Next year, Grade 3, you’re going to cop Brother Paul”, and it was going to be tough.’
Glen told the Commissioner that when his family moved to a new area in regional Victoria in the early 1970s, he was ‘absolutely petrified’ of his class teacher at the Christian Brothers school.
‘Amongst other things, he was exceptionally cruel to the boys … name calling … We were belittled. If we made a mistake, we were made to stand out in front of the class. We were strapped. He did weird things. One day a textbook, a reader, hadn’t arrived, so he dismissed us in the morning, so we had to walk home.’ For some of the small boys this meant a walk of more than 10 kilometres, to locked houses, in the days before mobile phones.
‘He had a habit of doing weird things at the drop of a hat, so he took us for walks. Because it was early in the year, the weather was warm.’ Several times, he took the boys to a local creek where ‘he told us to get down to our underpants’.
While the boys were swimming, Glen noticed boys sitting on Brother Paul’s lap. ‘Then it came my turn and when I was sitting on his lap, he fondled me … And at the end of that, we were told to get dressed and we walked back to school and he did that … two or three times … And that was the nature of my experience.’
Glen had been to the dentist one morning so he was late for school. At the school gate he told his mother he didn’t want to go in because he was scared he would get into trouble from Brother Paul. His mother turned around, walked him away from the school and immediately enrolled him elsewhere.
He had only been at the school for three months. ‘I regret that [the abuse] happened, but I had four wonderful years at the other school. It worked out really well for me, in a sense.’ Although Glen never told his parents about the abuse, his mother once told him that they ‘were aware that he was a nasty old man’.
Glen enjoyed the rest of his schooling, but ‘became very aware of being bullied, so bullying became a real issue for me at school … I’m probably more sensitive to being bullied and more reactive to being bullied. Probably shyer than I should be. This man, for an eight-year-old, he was very terrifying, the way he conducted himself in the classroom’.
As an adult, Glen has retained affiliations with the Church and has himself become a teacher in a Catholic school.
Even though he still has faith and is strongly involved in the Catholic community, Glen decided to seek compensation from the Christian Brothers for the abuse he experienced, when he saw how evasive the Christian Brothers were being during the Royal Commission’s public hearings.
Glen told the Commissioner, ‘I don’t know whether the Church is ever going to fully admit what they knew or not, but it’d be nice to have someone say, “Look, this is how it was”, and other organisations too. I’m pretty sure they’re all the same. In a sense, they’ve got things to hide and not willing to admit. But all of these people are getting old now, so you know … it’s very hard to get the truth’.