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Kieran Luke's story

Kieran’s first sexual encounter was in the mid-1990s, with a male cousin. He was nine and his cousin was a year older. Kieran told the Commissioner that because his cousin is gay and the experience was probably part of a young person’s experimentation, he doesn’t blame him.

‘But it did kind of open the door for this friend of the family who used to take me … shooting … Once or twice there was only … myself and this other fellow. He would have been in his 60s at the time … I was 11 years old.’

The man would talk to Kieran about ‘sexual stuff, about masturbation’ and told him, ‘It’s normal. Everybody does it. Men do it’. On their trips into the bush he gave Kieran alcohol, which Kieran thought ‘was pretty cool’.

The two were alone and Kieran was very drunk, and ‘that’s when he made his first events on me … exposing himself, getting me to touch him, touching me and whatnot, and this developed onwards for the next three to four years … and then it came to where he was actually anally penetrating me, and this went on till I was about 14’.

Kieran was scared to report his abuser because, ‘it had been drilled into me by the perpetrator that “if it ever gets out, everyone’ll think you’re gay” and … I grew up in a very … redneck family, off the farm … and that was the ultimate no-no’. Even when the man’s nephew eventually reported his uncle, and the man was sent to jail, Kieran denied that the man sexually abused him, because ‘I was that ashamed to actually tell the truth, even though somebody else had told the truth’.

Kieran had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder when he was nine, and when his behaviour began to deteriorate after the sexual abuse began, ‘they just assumed it was related to [the ADD]’. He was expelled from three schools in three years.

‘How did this kid go from being a straight A student … to … bashing people, graffitiing cars, threatening to shoot teachers … They just pumped me full of Ritalin … and “away he goes”.’

Kieran was sent to an education centre for troubled teenagers run by the Christian Brothers in Victoria. Students completed academic programs as well as recreational activities, and were assigned work placements. Kieran’s young Christian Brother teacher became quite friendly, and the two of them were often alone in the classroom.

As part of the education program, they talked about ‘health stuff [and] … it sort of developed into sexual talk … I suppose at the time I was thinking nothing of it, thinking it was part of the curriculum, but I suppose he was in a sense, grooming me’.

‘It got to the stage where he said, “I can show you what an erect penis looks like”, and I was thinking … “Well … I already know what one looks like” … but again, I was scared because of what happened to me, and it was traumatic, so then he exposed himself to me’.

The abuse continued, and the Brother ‘got me once or twice to masturbate him off and … again, it was, “We’ve got to keep this quiet … I don’t want anyone to think you’re getting favouritism and that, because I’m giving you good marks”, and all that.’

‘Why are you doing this to me? Kieran asked the Brother. ‘You’ve got a wedding ring on’. ‘And his answer was, “Well, I’m not married. I’m married to God”, to which, in my youthful enthusiasm I said, “Well, does that mean if you divorce him, you get half the world?”’ After Kieran began to resist the Brother’s abuse, ‘I started getting poor marks, poor behavioural reports. There were incidents that come up that never happened’.

‘It’s only sort of recently that I’ve realised … obviously I’ve been somewhat in denial for many years. That’s why I never spoke to anyone about it … kept it hidden inside and obviously now, it’s hit home through my own offending, how much it’s affected me and it’s only in the last six months that I’ve really discovered … how much it’s shaped my life.’

After Kieran became a sex offender, ‘it kind of hurt now to look back and think, well here I am sitting in a prison cell … not blaming him for my offending. Not blaming anyone but myself for my offending, but there is some significant factors that led me to become the person I am today’.

Kieran has been diagnosed with a number of mental health issues and after he was charged and convicted for his offence, ‘In a sense I was kind of grateful, because I realised I needed help’.

Kieran told the Commissioner, ‘One of the reasons I come forward was because of … how recent it was. I’m reading in the paper … about the Royal Commission … and all this stuff happening historically … This was happening to me in [the early 2000s]’.

Kieran’s first abuser is elderly and very ill, but the Brother was a lot younger and could still be in contact with children. Kieran is in two minds about having the Brother charged, because, ‘sitting here as a convicted child sex offender, I find it looks a bit hypocritical, but on the flip side, he has done the wrong thing’.

While Kieran doesn’t ‘lose sleep and cry because I’m in jail, I cry and lose sleep because I know what those two children [I abused] have got to go through for the next 20 years, because I’ve been through it, and that’s what keeps me awake at night. And what I’ve done to my family, and what I’ve done to their family … there’s not [just] two victims. There’s like 40 victims.’

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