In the mid-2000s, Greg made a report to police that as a child he’d been sexually abused by Brother Albert at his Christian Brothers’ school in regional New South Wales. He didn’t follow through with the police report until some years later when he had a chance conversation with another ex-student who disclosed that he too had been sexually abused by the Brother.
Both men then made new statements to police, and Brother Albert was charged with child sex offences. At the time of Greg’s session with the Royal Commission, the outcome of the trial was pending.
Greg told the Commissioner that Brother Albert was his headmaster and class teacher when the abuse occurred in the early 1970s. ‘I was 12 years old and he accused me of talking during school assembly. He made me go to his office while everyone else went off to sport.
‘He closed the office door then grabbed me from behind, put his hand down my pants and fondled my penis. He brushed his cheek against the side of my face and I could feel his erection at my back. I panicked and got out of there.’
Greg ran straight home and told his mother.
‘She was shocked. In those days it wasn’t heard of. She believed me, but she said, “It’s your word against his and he’s the headmaster”. I don’t think she told my father and it was all shoved under the carpet.’
The day after the abuse Brother Albert told Greg that he was ‘very disappointed’ in him, and thereafter took every opportunity to inflict a high level of physical punishment. ‘He had a two inch wide strap, three pieces of leather sewn together. I got the record for the most straps, a hundred in a year. He belted me with such malice. I can’t describe the look in his eyes. I was petrified of him.’
When Greg made his first police report, he also engaged with the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process.
He’d become aware that another ex-student had brought civil proceedings against the Christian Brothers in the mid-1990s for sexual abuse. During the Towards Healing mediation session, Greg asked whether Brother Albert had been in trouble before. ‘They said, “We’re not going to answer that”. Then I mentioned the other case 10 years earlier and their jaws dropped.’ After an initial offer of $5,000, Greg accepted $40,000 in compensation. The matter was settled within a year, which Greg attributed to his knowledge of Brother Albert’s prior court proceedings.
For the remainder of his school years after his abuse, Greg said he floundered and failed. ‘I didn’t care. Everyone else was carrying big, heavy bags to school and I had an exercise book folded in half in my back pocket.’
His poor academic results thwarted an ambition to join the Navy, and he went on to spend many years in low paid and insecure employment.
‘I never trusted authority figures. I’ve done anger management courses and various kinds of counselling over the years. I’ve had two failed marriages and I’m lucky the third has lasted 22 years. I put my sexual abuse down as a minimum because I got away from him, and I know others didn’t, but my wife says I’m still living, breathing, sleeping it. He set out to hurt me and he did. But here it is, 42 years later and I get to tell my story.’