One day in the late 1960s, before Keiran had started kindergarten, his dad ‘just disappeared’. An alcoholic and a gambler, he left a wife and two sons in their inner city housing commission home without any maintenance or support. Keiran’s mum, who worked two jobs and was ‘going through depression’, took him by the shoulders and said, ‘You’re the man of the house’.
‘I never forgot this’, Keiran said. ‘It stuck with me for life.’
In the 70s, when Keiran was still in primary school, a friend introduced his family to two men from the St Gerard Majella Society who visited the home and ‘brought an interesting film about the moon landing’. While Raymond Carey was older and stricter, Adam Healy was ‘a bright, very witty, tall, handsome young man’ who ‘made jokes and did tricks’. Before long, Keiran was joining the men and other boys on outings, and forming an alliance with Adam against Raymond who was a religious tyrant who ‘would punish kids with a slap’.
When Adam began to drop around to help his mother, Keiran felt that he had a ‘go-between for feelings and emotions’ that he couldn’t express directly to her. He felt uncomfortable when Adam, who was babysitting, started to play with his penis. ‘But he kept doing it’, Kerian said. ‘And then the uncomfortability went away, and I remember it became a nice sensation, and I just fell asleep that night, and that’s all I remember.’
When Adam began to take the family away on holidays, and sleep with and caress him in a separate room, Keiran ‘had no idea’ what was going on. ‘I just felt this comfort and relief that I had someone to help me raise the family, be the man of the house, and I would rely on him a lot and he knew that.’
Whenever his younger brother Pat ran away, became too sick to go on trips or rejected Adam who was ‘throwing gifts at him’, Keiran was ‘blind to what was happening’. He thought that his brother ‘was selfish, and he hated us, and it was all my fault for being a bad man of the house, a bad father to him’.
In the mid-70s, a routine developed which lasted for several months. Between a Friday night movie and a Saturday morning football game, Adam would take Keiran to a Sydney hotel where they would ‘do what we do, which is fellatio, and he’d wank himself and come. And then I’d collect the matchboxes and look out the window, or play with his binoculars and do all the fun things … to take my mind off what was going on’.
During school holidays, Adam would also take Keiran to his workplaces where he would ‘have his jollies’. These instances of abuse, which ‘didn’t have candy straight after’, are the ones that stick most in Keiran’s mind. They ‘didn’t have something that distracted me, a movie or a good time or a gift, or something, or a new matchbox for my collection, you know, ‘cause there are a lot of hotels that are just a blur’.
In his early teens, Keiran started to ‘act out’. He formed a group at school which surrounded girls in the street and slapped them on the bum. He also played with the vagina of a preschool girl during a game of hide and seek, and was ‘quite proud of it’ when his mother’s boyfriend twigged and praised him for being a ‘dirty little bugger’. Somehow, Adam found out, and ‘fixed’ things with the principal and the girl’s mum.
Keiran became quite skilful at arranging secret rendezvous with Adam. However, he also began to lose his ‘fear of being discovered’. ‘It became almost a thing that … gave me an adrenalin boost and gave me a pump up. And I created stories about it, you know, I was sleeping with women at school, and they called me Casanova because I come up with all these fascinating stories ... And I knew things that they didn’t about ejaculation and things like that … I was able to see porn movies with him, and I knew what was going on, and that became my thing.’
Keiran was aware that Adam was abusing other boys. ‘But I was always there’, he said. ‘I think I was his staple. He put a lot of investment in me, and I felt privileged by it. And … that’s what gave me my arrogant attitude, and you know, a lot of my defects are coming from the fact that I was sexually stimulated too early, I was given far too much attention, and something I craved, being left by my father.’
Thinking he was the ‘cool, hippy one’, Keiran shoplifted, drank and smoked joints during his final years of school, and did well in his exams ‘without doing any homework at all’. Then he met a girl and that made everything fall apart. ‘I realised that maybe I’m not gay, I’m bi … I became a very, very nasty person. I just used people. I was so selfish. I was sexually just inappropriate in all manners, in all ways, in all fashions, even at school, but I would just get suspended for it, or I would get the strap.
‘There was … no signals going and saying, “There’s something wrong with this child’s behaviour. Maybe we should look further into the background of the family and what’s happening”. There was none of that, because in those days, it was not even thought of. People didn’t even see the signs.’
If anyone did wonder why Adam kept hanging around, especially after his mother got a boyfriend, Keiran would say that he had been ‘a good friend to the family’, a ‘brother’ who had helped them to ‘grow up’. However, after about eight years, a suspicious cousin rallied the family who confronted Adam and threatened to call the police.
‘He broke down in tears, became all emotional, started telling us about his father’s abuse on him, about how he was made to sleep with his sister … And how then Mr Carey preyed on him, and then he was inducted into Mr Carey’s club … And then, we all … felt sorry for him, of course, being good Catholic Christian people, and we thought we’d forgive him, ‘cause he said that he was going to see counselling, and get treatment, and get all this looked at. And that’s when he disappeared from the family.’
A few years later, Keiran’s brother Pat got out of drug rehab and said, ‘I’m going to go do something about this mongrel … Not for you … for me. He did it to me’. Pat reported Adam to police. He confessed, but was let go. Pat got ‘back on the gear again and it was a mess’.
The revelation that his brother, as well as a younger relative, had been sexually abused by Adam, made everything ‘a bit more wishy-washy’ in Keiran’s head, and the ‘power of addiction’ took hold. ‘My mind really didn’t stop thinking about or obsessing about the next time I’m going to get high or stoned or pissed again.’ He supported his habits by running a ‘lucrative’ inner city marijuana syndicate. He never acted on his intention to seek compensation, and he endured major health problems and medical emergencies. ‘What I put my body through, I’m about 75 my doctor reckons.’
Since the 80s, Keiran has managed to hold down administrative jobs. He would ‘get a few drinks in’ before work, and then hide drinks in his coat. However, with the introduction of zero tolerance in the 2000s, he was not able to keep up the deception that he was a ‘fit and proper person’, and sought professional help. He is currently in a program and ‘working on getting well’.
He intends to stop having two lives, one at home ‘smoking drugs and taking alcohol and being in trouble all the time’, and one at work trying to serve the public.
When Keiran first contacted the Commission, he ‘sent an email in a drunken stupor’. When he was called back, he was also in ‘a drunken stupor’. However, six months ago, he gave up drinking and was excited to be sober during his private session. ‘It’s a serious thing for me to be sober’, he said. ‘Bloody good to be here sober, it really is … It’s been a whirlwind ride.’