Guy’s parents migrated to Australia in the 1970s, and the family settled in Victoria. His family was ‘very Catholic. I grew up … kneeling down and saying the rosary every night till I was about 15’.
When Guy was eight, a new priest arrived at the parish church, which was attached to Guy’s Catholic primary school. Father Stephen asked for volunteers for the choir, ‘so the school volunteered me’.
Guy’s first introduction to Father Stephen was when one of his friends invited him over to the church to get cigarettes from the priest. Guy was shocked, but went along with his friend.
‘Within a few weeks of being in the choir, we were offered alcohol, quite freely … We used to drink in front of him. We used to actually grab his scotch and drink it as well, quite often while we were sitting on his lap.’
Guy told the Commissioner, ‘He was a scary man … I understand the whole parish didn’t like him at all, and there would have been several people tried to get rid of him through the bishop. And that was before any allegations. He’s just obviously an arrogant man who has no empathy and it’s his way or the highway’.
As well as being in the choir, Guy was an altar boy and spent a lot of time at the church. Father Stephen often took the boys out of school for choir practice or training. He gave them money, sometimes for doing odd jobs, but ‘sometimes for no reason’. He also taught them how to gamble. Guy has had a gambling addiction since childhood.
‘I was regularly abused by Father Stephen … over [a] four-year period. I was regularly fondled and petted … There were several occasions when we modelled our … choir robes … It was a party. We were drunk. I was passed out. I’ve never reported that I’ve been anally raped. In my mind, I have no doubt, from my dreams of being held down, things like that.’
Guy stopped going to the presbytery after Father Stephen verbally abused him for spending time with his dad instead of coming to church one day. ‘He told me I was not welcome back and that I would burn in hell.’
For a long time, as an adult, Guy repressed the memories of the sexual abuse. As a child, he ‘was terrified and intimidated by Father Stephen, and I was constantly blaming myself and feeling guilty’.
Guy never told his parents or anyone at the church what was happening. ‘It was a very confusing time for me as I came from a very staunch Catholic household … where the priest was considered to be the centre of our community, and a direct link to God that could never be questioned.’
In Grade 5 Guy was sent to a Christian Brothers school and, at the same time that he was being abused by Father Stephen, he was ‘getting beaten with the strap, rulers and bare hands at [school] and attending detention … for not being able to complete most homework assignments. I was repeatedly told that I was lazy, dumb, irresponsible, sly and useless. Alcohol made me feel better’.
When he was 16, Guy attempted to take his own life and was referred to a psychiatrist. ‘I said nothing about Father Stephen or the drinking, the smoking … and the psychiatrist said it was more I was playing out because of my father’s absences and strictness and things like that.’
His father was getting blamed for something that wasn’t his fault and a few years later, his parents divorced. ‘I feel a lot of blame for that … I don’t think they would have been able to understand. I didn’t have the words at the time, either. I felt a lot of guilt that it was my fault.’
Guy went on to have a successful career in the military, until family issues caused memories of his abuse to re-surface, and he was discharged on medical grounds. Guy has a number of physical and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
Guy told the Commissioner that he has ‘been left to deal with the trauma as a result of the abuse that I experienced, and to date, no justice has been served for me as a victim of abuse at the hands of Father Stephen. He was a known paedophile, but there were never any consequences for his criminal acts prior to his death …
‘I have not received an apology from the Catholic Church and not received genuine support since disclosing this abuse … [I] hope that my experience helps to ensure that perpetrators of abuse and those that harbour deviant criminals are brought to justice, and that such atrocities like this are handled appropriately in the future.’