Lachie Ross's story

‘I wanted to be a priest, I thought it was the best thing in the world.’

Lachie was adopted into a ‘happy Catholic family’ when he was a toddler in the early 1970s. He enjoyed his Catholic school in a New South Wales city and loved being a part of the church. Lachie and his best friend were training to become altar boys in the parish and aspired to be priests. He said his job was to ‘light up candles, set up for mass and pack up’ after mass concluded.

When Lachie was eight years old, he was asked to stay behind after a training session by Friar David. He recalls feeling ‘excited’ that Friar David had noticed him and followed him to the sacristy. Lachie was molested by Friar David and was forced to watch him masturbate. After Friar David had ‘finished’, he told Lachie that he would ‘go to hell’ if he told anyone about the incident.

After the abuse occurred, the school’s teachers began to send Lachie over to the presbytery with Friar David’s mail. This would occur during school hours. Lachie was invited to Friar David’s room and forced to watch him masturbate again. On one occasion, Friar David attempted to rape Lachie, who managed to escape.

Lachie didn’t tell anyone about the abuse. His family were ‘devastated’ when Lachie’s older sister was sexually abused so he kept quiet. As well, he thought his father ‘probably would have killed’ Friar David. He said the only person he could trust was Mrs Powell, Lachie’s first teacher at school.

‘She was my kindergarten teacher and I tried to tell her one day on the quadrangle. She just brushed me off … I just thought that no one’s going to believe this. Stuff it.’

Lachie stopped attending altar boy training after the abuse ceased. He told his parents he ‘just didn’t want to do it anymore’. Lachie’s behaviour changed dramatically, and he went from being a ‘quiet boy’ to being the ‘class clown’, becoming disruptive and always getting into trouble. He was caned frequently, which made it hard for him to learn.

‘I just wanted to stay in school, not to get any qualifications, just so I wasn’t lonely … I was there because I felt safe around all me friends.’

After Lachie finished high school, he went on to study music. He said he played different instruments over the years, starting on the drums when he was angry and progressing to guitar as he became a calmer person. He said that when he plays music, ‘nothing else matters’.

Lachie suffers from anxiety and often has disrupted sleep. He has abused cannabis and alcohol for a number of years though has given up cannabis now. Lachie’s health has ‘gotten worse’ over the years. He has had intense counselling and has been on medication for depression. He lives on a disability pension.

Lachie first disclosed the details of his abuse to his now ex-partner in the mid-2010s. He then reported Friar David to the police shortly after. Lachie has made a civil claim and is waiting to hear back from the police.

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