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Gregor David's story

Gregor’s family moved to a town in regional Victoria in the mid-1970s to be closer to his father’s work. Gregor attended the local government primary school as the only other school was Catholic and his family were not religious.

When Gregor was in Grade 4, the school decided to start some religious education and invited a priest, who Gregor believes was from the nearby Catholic school, to teach the children. It was the first time he’d had any religious instruction, but Gregor said for some reason he was able to answer a lot of the questions the priest asked.

‘I think because I’d been able to answer so many questions he took a bit of an interest in me. At the end of the class he asked to speak to me, the class was dismissed and he asked to speak to me alone.’

The priest sent the teacher out of the room and once they were alone, he asked to see Gregor’s ‘Peter’.

‘He performed oral sex on me and he asked if I would perform oral sex on him and I said “No” and he said “Oh, look, maybe next time”. Then the teacher entered the room – I think she was concerned that there may be something inappropriate happening – and she entered the room and he started yelling “Get out of the room! I’m talking to this young boy”, and this is at the top of his voice. I’m eight or nine years old so this is all pretty confronting for me.’

The teacher left but soon returned with a more senior teacher and the priest then left.

Gregor said the teacher questioned him and he described the priest asking to see his ‘Peter’ and kissing his ‘Peter’, so the school was aware of what had happened. He doesn’t believe there was any action taken to go to the police, and his parents were not told of the incident, but the school did stop the priest from coming back and they never had religious education lessons again.

‘It seemed to me that the kids in the playground all seemed to know what was happening. For me, I was completely naive about what had occurred or what it meant or even what it was … I remember one of the kids saying to me “He’s a paedophile you know, you’ll have to stay away from him” …

‘I never received any ribbing or teasing or anything as a result of it. In fact I think they empathised with me quite well.’

Gregor never told his parents and did not disclose the abuse to anybody until he started hearing about the work of the Royal Commission, when he told his wife.

He said the abuse had a lifelong impact on his relationships with children because every time he saw a child, or was introduced to a child, he would straight away think about what happened to him. He said as he’s got older, this trigger has extended to all young people he meets, including those in their early 20s.

‘As a result I’ve always been very stand-offish from children and always very aware of not getting close to them.’

He doesn’t believe it has affected his relationship with his own daughter but ‘it’s a constant thought that going back to what happened is something that always happens for me’.

Gregor has a diagnosed mental illness and regularly sees a psychiatrist, but he has not discussed the abuse or its impacts within his sessions. He said he’s tried counselling but it didn’t really work for him.

‘You have to sort these things out yourself and settle them in your own mind … There’s really a large element of sucking it up, to be honest with you … You’ve just got to get on with life and come to the understanding that things, you can’t allow things that have happened in the past affect you now. You just have to move forward and do your best and that’s all you can do.’

He decided to come forward out of ‘a sense of justice’.

‘I think it’s important. I’ve been a bit ambivalent about coming to the Royal Commission, because the Church is a powerful institution. But in the end I just felt that there were too many people who had sacrificed a lot in order for this to come about and had worked really hard to make this Royal Commission a reality and there’s a real sense of duty to them.’

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