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Kevin Vincent's story

Kevin grew up in a staunchly Catholic family in Victoria in the 1950s.

In a written statement, supplied to the Royal Commission, Kevin wrote about the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of one of his teachers, Father Martin Williams. He was 11 when the abuse first occurred.

‘[He] invited me into his bedroom … where he showed me medical-like diagrams of the human penis, both erect and flaccid … He then instructed me to pull down my shorts and underpants, whilst I was standing adjacent to [his] desk.’

Father Martin pointed to the diagram of the erect penis and said, ‘“This is what is called a horn” … I felt very confused as I had only heard the term “horn” used in relation to a musical instrument’.

Kevin didn’t understand why he had to pull his shorts and underpants down. ‘I remember him staring at my genitals and this made me feel uncomfortable, intimidated, embarrassed and confused … I felt violated and invaded.’ The abuse occurred approximately four times and each time, Martin gave Kevin a chocolate bar.

Kevin had no reason to question Martin’s actions because ‘at the time in the Catholic religion it was considered that a priest was the representative of God’.

After the boys had played football, they would routinely have showers and Kevin recalled how Martin ‘would have us all lined up naked before we had dried ourselves, and had us turn around with our back to him, on the pretext he was ensuring we were thoroughly clean … I remember feeling very embarrassed and uncomfortable and that my privacy was being violated’.

At a school reunion in the mid-2010s, one of Kevin’s classmates mentioned Father Martin, and at least five other men recalled similar incidents of abuse to the ones Kevin experienced. Since then, the school has acknowledged the abuse by Martin and other teachers at the school, and Kevin has contacted a solicitor with regards to a claim for compensation.

Prior to the reunion Kevin had not told anyone, ‘family, friends, or anyone at school … about what happened to me because of feelings of embarrassment, shame, fear of ridicule, and my perception of others holding Father Martin in high esteem. Furthermore, the rigid … doctrines insisted upon by the Catholic Church at the time totally dominated the attitude and lifestyle of the fervent believer, of which I was one’.

Following the abuse, Kevin’s schoolwork deteriorated.

‘I was struggling … I began to struggle … I think it’s had an enormous impact on my life, a detrimental impact.’

Kevin suffers from anxiety, depression and a lack of self-confidence. He has also had long-term issues with alcohol abuse, and has been unable to maintain relationships with women.

Kevin told the Commissioner that the catalyst for him coming forward to the Royal Commission was ‘the business about George Pell earlier this year. It escalated from that …

‘The crap in the back of your mind never goes away … I’m saying things to you people that I haven’t said to anybody in [over] 50 years … You can’t change history, but coming here today, it’s going to be a real relief to me, I must say.’

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