‘If you would have spoken about things like that before they would have said, “You’re off your head. That doesn’t happen”. But the reality is, as we all know, it does happen.’
When Greg was five, his parents separated and he went to live with his mother who a few years later ‘started to get on the grog’.
This period coincided with Greg becoming ill and he missed a lot of school. By the time he went to a Marist Brothers school in late primary school, he was ‘falling behind academically’ and ‘behind the eight ball’.
He described spending a lot of time by himself and ‘wasn’t the normal guy at school’. Nevertheless school had been fairly uneventful until one day in the early 1970s when Brother Terry Porter asked Greg to help tidy up some sports equipment.
‘I was asked to take the mats out of the school and the door was bolted behind me’, Greg said. ‘And I was laid flat on the mat and he was [rubbing] his penis up and down my leg.’
Greg recalled that this was the only incident that occurred with Brother Porter. Nothing was said and Greg didn’t feel he could tell anyone about what had happened.
‘I felt that if I was to go home and tell Mum about it, then I felt that she’d literally go down and kill him. I was afraid of the repercussions to me, I was afraid of the repercussions for my mother at the age of 10, because I knew that she had a very volatile temper and aggressive temper. And I didn’t really care less about him at all, but I was only 10 remember, or 11.’
Because he ‘didn’t know about sex’, Greg found it hard to understand what Porter had done.
‘I was literally unsure about what had happened, the whole thing. The whole issue about being laid on the mats and having this guy [rubbing] his penis up and down my leg didn’t sort of like mean anything to me, and I thought, “Oh, he’s rubbing up against me. Why is he rubbing up against me for?” … I didn’t know what he was doing, like he was playing some sort of a game like kids … [but] later on I realised, no, that guy was actually having a sexual release with me. But I didn’t think of it in that respect. I just thought he’s being funny and playing games.’
In the late 2000s, after the death of his mother coincided with news reports of clergy and religious sexually abusing children, Greg decided to make a report to NSW Police about Porter. After making a statement, he was asked if he wanted police to ‘do anything about this’, and he replied, ‘not just quite yet’.
In the early 2010s, Greg contacted staff of Towards Healing and at the time of speaking with the Royal Commission, was following up avenues of compensation. He’d tried to reactivate the police matter but was told that Porter was dead.
In his early adult years, Greg had been hospitalised in a psychiatric ward, something he believed ‘was a direct cause of what happened’ when he was 10. He’d been diagnosed with chronic depression, ‘erratic behaviour’ and ‘obsessive personality’.
Early on Greg had recognised he was gay, but he’d often had ‘this guilt sort of thing’ about the abuse and about being attracted to men.
‘Not for one moment am I ever saying that my homosexuality was directly contributable to what happened on that event. I’m not suggesting that for one moment … I’m not here to talk about my homosexuality. I’m here to talk about this specific issue of being molested [and the] trust that a single mother would take to her children, and really find it really tough to put them through a private school to want the best for them. To be entrusted into the hands of men to behave like this is just horrific.’
At various times, Greg had experienced health problems related to high levels of drinking.
‘Those feelings and those emotions and all of this stuff about this childhood have not helped me in my later life. So I’m not excusing my behaviour, for the excessive use of alcohol directed towards that, but I really believe that it’s been contributory.’
He sometimes participated in Uniting Church services, but had no ‘time for the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church’.
‘I just can’t be bothered. I really lost my faith from it. Not my faith in God, but my faith in the Catholic Church.’
He described now being ‘looked after medically’ and psychologically very well, and he lived in a safe and secure home.
‘What a wonderful thing it is to have a Commission that’s helping people to address these issues for people like mine that perhaps even as soon as five years ago wouldn’t even dream of talking like this. They’d think that you were mad and they’d say, “Well, you’re in a psych ward, honey. You better get back there quick”, you know. So it’s been absolutely brilliant this afternoon. I walk away always remembering this.’