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Hutton's story

‘I’m happy to, I guess, divulge the story but what I’m more so concerned with, is the fact that the Christian Brothers knew he was up to no good, he was abusing children, and kept moving him on from school to school to school. And then proceeded to send him overseas when things starting heating up.

‘So my aim is to … stop the process of cover-up.’

In the mid-70s, to get away from a physically abusive stepfather, Hutton was sent to live with his grandparents on the central coast of New South Wales. He began attending a Christian Brothers’ primary school where the principal was Brother Damian Wesker.

In a statement provided to the Royal Commission, Hutton wrote, ‘My first experience with him putting his hands into my pants and touching my genitals was in the initial two weeks of starting school. He did this on the pretext of showing me how to tuck my shirt in properly. This happened so often following this initial touching that I lost count of the number of times it occurred’.

Brother Wesker physically and sexually abused Hutton over the next two years. He would make Hutton kneel and polish his shoes, and he’d then push Hutton’s face into his crotch. On another occasion, Wesker masturbated in front of Hutton. He’d also stand in the toilet block and watch boys urinate.

One day Wesker followed Hutton into a cubicle, pushed him up against the wall and digitally penetrated him, deeming it punishment for not using the urinal.

Wesker was also in charge of the choir. From Hutton’s statement: ‘He would call me out and say words to the effect of, “You’re not opening your mouth enough, the sound is not coming out”. He would then put one, then two, then three fingers deep into my mouth and turn them clockwise then anticlockwise telling me this was how far he expected our mouths to be opened.’

The following year Wesker gave Hutton responsibility for restocking a vending machine in the school. To do this required a set of keys. Wesker would make him take the keys out of his pocket, then hold Hutton’s hand while he rubbed his erect penis against it. ‘This happened at least once a week every week for the duration of Year 6’, Hutton wrote.

During this time, his parents’ marriage ended. Hutton’s mother couldn’t afford the school fees on her own and asked the Christian Brothers for financial help. ‘Wesker would say to me, “You know your mother has applied for a bursary for you. I have the final say in this”. He told me I would have to improve and toe the line for him to approve this.’

Hutton said he was sexually assaulted on numerous occasions by Wesker after this.

Even when he moved into high school, there were more predators. On a camping trip one weekend, a teacher got Hutton drunk then sexually abused him after he passed out. Hutton remembered spending the night locked in a toilet cubicle to get away from the man.

He soon went from being a student with ‘excellent grades’ who had already decided on a career, to a loner with no interest in his education. He started smoking marijuana ‘at quite a young age, probably just before high school. And that was, you know, numbing myself every day’.

Hutton also took up boxing and martial arts, to protect himself from further abuse. He began to self-harm and twice tried to take his own life.

After leaving school, Hutton began working in the sex industry. ‘I struggled for years thinking, was there something wrong with me? Why were men the main factor in my abuse? In those years I pretty much turned to working in the sex trade to empower myself over my sexuality … to be able to say no, to be in control of what was happening.’

At the same time, he was still boxing. ‘It was a physical pain I could deal with, that made sense to me. The internal pain I couldn’t handle.’

In his mid-20s, Hutton got a new job and stopped doing sex work. But his marijuana habit affected every aspect of his life. He wrote: ‘I was having about five joints a day from Year 8 with the amount increasing each year until the age of 30. This caused me an incredible financial hardship resulting in the loss of relationships and eventually two businesses’.

Even when he was prescribed medication for PTSD and a major depressive illness Hutton said, ‘I refused and continued to smoke pot’.

In his late forties, Hutton read that Brother Wesker had been convicted of child sex offences. He was furious at the short custodial sentence the Brother had received and decided to go to the police.

But this also forced Hutton to return to the Christian Brothers.

‘The hardest thing about this whole process was putting pen to paper, and writing down everything that happened. You could think about it - the horror, the grief, whatever was there - but to actually put pen to paper, that made it real.’

‘Even when the police went to the school involved … they denied I was ever there. And I had to sift through old merit certificates to actually prove that I was at the school.

‘But I’ve found the process has been healing … there is a sense of justice now, knowing that Wesker has admitted guilt ... that he’s going to serve more time because of it.’

When he spoke to the Commissioner, Hutton had also reported the abuse by the teacher and started a civil case. He continues to struggle with being around people and still has thoughts of suicide, but said that counselling has helped.

Sharing his story was another part of that journey. ‘What I’ve done so far in the civil and the criminal case is not going to change anything in the bigger picture with abuse. So the Royal Commission gives me one small, little piece of trying to have this big picture changed.’

Hutton recommended that all schools should have an independent person, such as a counsellor or police officer, who is visible and accessible to children. ‘To have a point of contact going out in every newsletter, to have these numbers within the school - “This is who you can call, confidentially, if anything like this happens”.’

After so many years, Hutton is finally in a good place. ‘I’m quite optimistic now. Still, relationships are a hard situation for me but … I’m a lot happier. I’ve stopped having nightmares, which is great. I’m even making plans to retire. It’s going to be a place a lot smaller; it’ll actually be on an island – how isolated is that? – and overseas.’

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