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Jason's story

The sports coach, Mr Tallow, often took students from a Catholic college in Sydney to watch football games, and Jason felt lucky when his turn came up.

It was the 1980s. Jason’s father was recovering from a nervous breakdown and his mother was often busy, so trips and excursions were rare for the 12-year-old student.

‘After the game Tallow drove me to Kings Cross where he pulled up to talk to a prostitute. Afterwards, he drove me to a spot near my home, and made me masturbate him and give him oral sex. He told me it was what older kids did in sex ed. I could see my house, I should have got out and ran – but I didn’t.’

Further trips to sporting matches were promised if Jason kept the abuse secret, which he did. Then a few weeks later, a Brother from the school collected Jason from class to ‘talk about sex education’.

Brother Rex, who was in his 30s, took Jason to an area that was out of bounds and out of view from the main buildings, and told him that people who love each other have sex, before showing Jason how to masturbate.

‘Brother Rex suggested he knew what happened with Tallow. He asked me who I loved, then unzipped his fly and started masturbating. Then he grabbed my hand and made me masturbate him. He started moaning and I remember crying. Then I kicked him in the shins and ran back to class.’

At the end of the class, Jason saw Rex standing by his classroom door.

‘[The teacher] called me to the front of the class and told me I was to stay behind. Then I got the strap. That probably had a greater impact on my adult life. From then on, I became a very compliant student. I didn’t tell my parents because I didn’t want to burden them, they had enough on their plate.’

Throughout high school, Jason achieved top marks academically and excelled in sport. But memories of the abuse refused to fade, and by his mid-20s, he said, he was alcohol dependent. He married young ‘and that only lasted a couple of months because of the alcohol, and I still go through periods where I drink. Around the same time I … threw myself into my career’.

Jason later remarried and had children, but when he learnt his nephew was to be sent to the same Catholic college, it triggered a severe reaction. In the 2010s, he penned a suicide letter to his family detailing the abuse, and drove to a nearby beach where he planned to drown himself.

‘My parents were saying, “Isn’t it great Brother Rex is still there?” They didn’t know. I didn’t know how to deal with that, but I knew I had to protect my nephew.’

Fortunately Jason was found before carrying out his intention and received counselling. Within a couple of months he decided he was going to ‘take on’ the men who had abused him, and lodged a statement with police.

‘I was the first person to speak, but at least 10 others have now come forward. Brother Rex was convicted and got seven years in jail.’

Tallow had faced child abuse charges in the 1980s, but wasn’t convicted. At the time of Jason’s session at the Royal Commission, Tallow was awaiting trial to answer charges relating to Jason and other students. The class teacher was also due to defend similar charges relating to other students.

Over nearly three decades, Jason has battled with depression and anxiety.

With support from his parents he has now commenced a civil action against the Church.

‘I’m seeing a psychologist, but if it wasn’t for my kids I probably wouldn’t be here. To be quite honest, I don’t ever want them to know what happened to me. I’m very protective of them.

'I think one-on-one teacher meetings should be limited … and as far as the investigation, it took too long. It took over a year from when I made my statement for them to be charged, and I don’t think that’s good enough.’

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