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Humphrey's story

Humphrey was born in the 1940s and grew up in a poor part of Melbourne where crime was rife. Many of the government housing residents were former inmates of the nearby prison. His family was poor and often couldn’t afford meals.

‘My dad abused alcohol and gambling, but he loved us and was kind to us. We think he was severely affected by his wartime experiences.’

His older brother would steal food for the family, and later became infamous for his home burglaries. ‘He had a strict code of ethics about whom he would steal from. I also became involved in these activities.’

The first time Humphrey was taken into care he was nine. After this he spent time in an orphanage, residential homes, a youth training centre and his family home.

In his early teens he was picked up by police for stealing and sent to a training centre on remand. Because he was Catholic, he was placed into a Catholic boys’ home. Before this placement he had not experienced any abuse in care.

A few days after he arrived at the home he was called to the office of the supervisor, Father Lambert. He was informed that ‘if you’re naughty, this is what we do’, made to remove his trousers, and strapped on his buttocks. ‘I was screaming. He hit me about six times.’

Next he was forced to play with Lambert’s penis, and perform oral sex on him.

After this the priest raped him, beating him when he resisted.

Humphrey ran away and spoke to a police officer, telling him that he had left the home – and why.

‘I said, “I was sexually assaulted there by a priest”. And he says, “Don’t talk shit to us ... priests don’t do that”.’

The officer then returned him to the boys’ home.

‘When the police refused to take my complaint seriously, I bottled my feelings up and refused to think about the abuse. I thought that if they did not believe me, no one would.’

At the home Lambert raped and beat him again, saying that if he told anyone again he would be punished even more severely.

‘Afterwards, I told him that I would be a good boy. I ran away again as soon as I could.’

This time when he left he avoided police and instead went to his family. He did not say anything about the abuse.

From then on Humphrey had further stints in the training centre, and finally adult prison for crimes including sexual offences against children.

‘I have been convicted of sexual offences. I paid some teenagers to have sex with me. There was no violence involved, but I recognise the seriousness of these offences.’

Ashamed of committing these offences, he entered a guilty plea when caught because ‘I deserved all the punishment I got’. He regrets that ‘in the end I turned out to be one of the scumbags like the priest’.

His relationships with women have been affected by his regular stints in prison. ‘I never got married. I wish I had got married. I remember wanting children.’

Humphrey has recently been in contact with a legal firm regarding compensation for the abuse he experienced in the boys’ home. He has also been assisted by an organisation for people who grew up in care, and feels that if he had been able to access support through similar services 50 years ago he may not have become an offender himself.

He has engaged with therapy ‘because of the sexual offences that I committed. I believe that the psychologists think that I committed the sexual offences because of the rape by Father Lambert’.

Still, he recognises that having been abused himself does not make him less accountable for his own offending – ‘I won’t use that as an excuse for my actions. Nobody twisted my arm.'

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