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Kay's story

Kay said that as a boy her eldest son was a ‘generous, kind, affectionate and happy-go-lucky kind of kid’.

Now in his 40s, she told the Commissioner, Cameron is clinically depressed, battles addictions to alcohol and gambling and admitted to thoughts of suicide.

Kay believes Cameron was sexually abused by at least two men during a time when she was ‘heavily involved’ with her Catholic parish in the 1980s.

She said one of the men, a Marist Brother, would often drop by to spend time with her family.

‘Cameron would often be in his bedroom with Brother Brian, and there’s stupid me in the kitchen innocently thinking he’s giving Cameron guidance. Cameron told me years later that Brian would be touching him while I was cooking dinner, I don’t know how many times, then he’d bold-faced come out and have a meal with us.’

Kay said Brian sexually abused Cameron while he was a 15-year-old student at a Marist Brothers college. She understands the Brother has since been ordained as a priest, and lives and works in Sydney.

Then, when at 17, Cameron showed a keen interest in writing, Kay allowed him to travel to the coast with another friend she’d made through the Church.

‘Doug worked on a Catholic newsletter and offered to take Cameron on a weekend trip, so they could work on some stories and that sort of thing. When Cameron came home, he was acting very strange, I couldn’t work it out. His behaviour went downhill really quickly after that.’

Months later Cameron tearfully disclosed the abuse to Kay following a major fight between them.

He later provided further explanation through a letter he wrote, part of which read:

‘On a trip away under the guise of a writing internship, Doug told me of a network of several priests in the diocese that were part of a ring. He mentioned names, but it was so long ago, I can’t remember them all. They had been discussing me and grooming me through involvement in Church activities. He said there were several boys they had their eyes on.’

In the same letter, Cameron also described his conflicting emotions following the sexual abuse.

‘I was so fucking confused that any time a man in the Church got close to or put his arms around me, I couldn’t tell if it was sexual or not.’

Kay immediately reported Cameron’s abuse to the bishop. She said the bishop appeared ‘upset and concerned’ and promised prayers.

Two months later Kay met with her ‘good friend’, the archbishop, and told him Cameron’s story.

‘He wasn’t shocked, but he was disappointed. A while later I asked him what had been done, and he said, “Well, Doug’s been counselled. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time, perhaps it was just a weakness”.

'He had a 17-year-old kid in his room in a hotel. Weakness or alcohol or not, you don’t touch that child.’

Not long after, Kay said, Doug moved away.

‘We were glad he’d left town, but I was disappointed it hadn’t gone further, and we hadn’t heard something positive had been done about it.’

Kay said Cameron had been diagnosed with clinical depression, and described in writing the sense of low self-worth he suffered.

‘Despite therapy and months of good progress, I had another gambling incident. That voice in my head that wants me dead rose up in such force, and before I knew it I was back at the machines undoing months of hard work and cash. If I hadn’t called my girlfriend, I would have chucked myself off the railroad bridge.’

Though Cameron had reassured Kay that the abuse was not her fault, her son’s trauma was a constant source of torment.

‘To think those guys used me to get to my son, just breaks my heart. I didn’t give birth to him for some bastards to come along and abuse him. All that promise was just frittered away by someone’s selfish … actions. I can’t even tell you what it’s like to see your child suffering.’

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