Father Martin Lowe was a junior priest at Joshua’s Catholic church in the 1980s, and was also associated with his school. One day Lowe invited 12-year-old Joshua and one of his friends to have a fun fight with him in the church hall. The boys thought this was a cool idea as they wanted to test their strength against an adult. The priest then led them to the hall and lay some mats on the floor, and said that if they won the tussle against him they could then ‘punish’ him.
During the fight, Lowe sexually abused both of the boys by pushing his erect penis into their backs, and also between Joshua’s buttocks. After Lowe allowed them to ‘win’ he ‘asked us to do some vulgar things to him’ as his ‘punishment’. The boys complied and afterwards both of them talked about Lowe having an erection when they did that to him. Another almost identical incident took place within a fortnight.
Joshua did not disclose the abuse to anyone at the time. Although he definitely thought what had happened was odd, he did not realise it was wrong. Still, he felt afraid that he might not be believed if he said anything, or he might get into trouble with his parents.
As an adolescent the abuse caused Joshua confusion about his sexual identity. He later went on to get married and have children. He recognises that he is overprotective of his kids and finds it hard to trust other adults who may care for them.
Joshua has now told his parents about the abuse. He felt ‘embarrassment and shame’ as such a long period had passed since it happened, and that this wait might cause feelings of ‘distrust’ in their relationship.
Still, he realises that his overall good relationship with his family has been a source of resilience. ‘I was lucky in that my family unit was stable, I had very loving parents, overprotective parents I should say ... I had a good home life and upbringing.’
Over 20 years after the abuse Joshua encountered another of Lowe’s victims in the course of his work, and both of them reported the priest to police. Lowe was charged as a consequence of their reporting and that of several other victims.
It was stressful for Joshua to have to give evidence and to see Lowe’s supporters in the court, and ‘confronting’ to hear the other victims’ evidence, too. ‘The offences against me weren’t as heinous as some of the others that had occurred to other men ... It was tough, but you’ve got people there to help you.’
Overall the trial was very difficult for him, and in hindsight he realises how ‘irritable’ and ‘short tempered’ he was during this period.
Lowe was found guilty of the charges relating to Joshua and most of the other victims, and given a custodial sentence. The priest has now been given additional jail time for offences against further victims, and also extra charges relating to Joshua.
Joshua still encounters Lowe’s family members in the community, and this makes him ‘uncomfortable and anxious’. Since the trial he has become increasingly reluctant to attend church or to be part of this community, and he is currently engaged with a lawyer regarding his potential legal options.