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Ken's story

By under-achieving at school, Ken hoped his parents would remove him from the Marist Brothers’ college in Victoria that he began attending in the early 1960s. Ken told the Commissioner that leaving school was the only way he believed he could escape weekly sexual abuse at the hands of the principal.

‘From the very first week of that school year, Brother Royson was sexually molesting me. I will never forget the first time it happened. I was totally at a loss and confused as to what was happening to me.’

Ken described being taken to the principal’s office and having ‘strange things’ done to him.

‘He’d make me stand in front of him – undoing my trouser button, then fly, pulling my trousers and underpants down, and then fondling my genitals for five minutes or so. Then there’d be digital penetration, while he pleasured himself.’

Ken felt unable to tell his strongly religious parents, and when his mother noticed his grades falling, Ken’s plan backfired when she arranged for him to be privately tutored by the principal.

‘He’d threaten me saying, “If anything leaves this room, you will pay”. I was terrified of the man. He’d get me at morning tea break, lunch, after school in these tutoring sessions.

‘My confidence was shattered, and it cost me an education. I don’t for one second believe I was the only boy being molested there either.’

For three and a half years Ken endured the sexual abuse, and would often fantasise about suicide. He also ‘did terribly’ academically, and would often receive physical punishment for his poor grades.

‘I was terrified of Royson. He’d sing while you were getting it, while hitting us with these thick, heavy 12-inch rulers until your knuckles and the back of your hands were bleeding. And he’d smile. He bloody enjoyed it.’

When Ken turned 15 his parents allowed him to leave school. He went on to marry and have children, never telling a soul what he’d suffered until a morning news story that aired in the early 2000s triggered a deep emotional reaction in him.

‘This bishop was on television stating there was no abuse happening, and that the Brothers had been involved in horseplay and just hugged the boys. I came close to having a nervous breakdown watching and hearing it, full-well knowing it was a lie.’

After seeing the report, Ken revealed the abuse to his wife, children and his mother.

‘My relationships with my family have improved since I’ve told them. They’ve been amazingly supportive. I wasn’t a bad father, but I know I could have been better. When I told my mother, she defended “her” Church. I felt utterly betrayed again. In her eyes, the Church could do no wrong.’

Around the same time, Ken lodged a statement with police and recalled being told an investigation wasn’t possible since Brother Royson had died five years earlier.

In the early 2000s, he attended a meeting requested by a senior Marist Brother.

‘I think the police had contacted the Marist Brothers, and this Brother came from Victoria with a lawyer to see me. It felt very business-like. What struck me was the lack of empathy and understanding. He told me he’d worked with Royson and seemed quite fond of him. They didn’t want to go to court and offered me $26,500, which I gave to my kids. It was dirty money.’

Ken also accepted counselling through Towards Healing, but only attended two sessions.

‘The counsellor was a nice German lady, but she’d forget my name and didn’t seem to know why I was there, so I gave it up.’

Ken told of battling demons relating to his past trauma every day, and believes he was sorely undercompensated by the Church.

‘I would have liked to have seen a lot more compassion and a lot less concern for their Catholic brand. The amount I received was an insult, and shows a complete lack of understanding for the enormity of what victims have been through. There hasn’t been one day in 50 years I haven’t been affected by these criminal actions in some way.’

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