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Glen Matthew's story

‘Mine was a one-off. I managed to dodge this guy for the rest of the time I was at the school. So it was a one-off. But I think he was practised at what he was doing and that’s what’s prompted me to contact you guys, that it might have been more than just me.’

Glen attended a Marist Brothers school in New South Wales in the early 1960s. One day, when he was about 11 years old, he was walking past the principal’s office on his way to catch a train when the principal, Brother McLachlan, called him in for a chat.

Looking back, Glen speculates that McLachlan picked him out because he was one of the few kids who caught the train to school and didn’t live in the local area. ‘He didn’t want to do things to me and then see me with my parents in the street the next day or at church on Sunday.’

Once Glen was inside the office, McLachlan started asking him questions about what he got up to on the weekends. When Glen said that he liked to go to the cinema, the Brother became eager and started asking about the ‘mischief’ that Glen got up to in the dark with girls.

‘It sort of wound him up. And I sat there and I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t say anything, because I wasn’t doing anything in the cinema except eating popcorn and watching the movie. And then he got hold of me and he manhandled me and he made me masturbate him. And it was a shock. I didn’t know anything about sex.’

McLachlan forced Glen to masturbate him till he ejaculated. Glen started to cry. McLachlan yelled at him to shut up and threatened to cane him if he didn’t stop crying.

‘I couldn’t leave. He sat me down and then he said that I was a bad boy and he was tempted to sort of delete me from the list of boys that were going to go to the high school the following year. And he told me not to say anything to anyone, and I haven’t until today.’

After the attack Glen went well out of his way every afternoon to avoid the principal’s office. McLachlan never came near him again.

Glen told the Commissioner that the abuse had only one serious impact on his life.

‘I lost my faith. I don’t practise. I’m not a practising Catholic. I was a practising Catholic, because my family were and we all went to church on Sunday. I don’t go to church anymore. I don’t have anything to do with the Catholic Church.’

The abuse didn’t stop Glen from pursuing a normal, healthy life. He succeeded at school and went on to enjoy a lasting, loving marriage and a successful career as a teacher. Glen said that with better sex education, greater risk-awareness and mandatory reporting rules, the school system is a much safer place for children these days – ‘It’s a different planet to what happened to me when I was a kid’.

He was grateful for the chance to finally tell his story and said that he’s now considering reporting McLachlan to the police and to the Catholic Church. He suspects that the Brother is now dead but he still wants to make a report – partly to lend support to other survivors and partly because ‘I think they need to know. I would hate to think that this guy is in the Marist Brothers hall of fame or something as one of the best ever Marist Brothers in the country’.

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