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Lane's story

‘I feel very, very, very strongly and very angry about being cheated of happiness, amongst other things, or just the simple life.’

Lane says that the Catholic Church ‘did that to me’ just as much as the priest who molested him for nearly 10 years during his childhood.

Lane’s parent’s split up in the 1970s, when he was five. Within a year, Father Bede Walsh had moved to the country town where Lane lived with his mother and sister, and started to sexually abuse him.

Walsh ‘was quite kind to me and I was a lost young boy and that’s his modus operandi ... He was very kind and very loving to me and I had a need for a male role model and that’s one of the most damaging things.

‘What really hurts is that someone who you looked to with love and affection, who you trust, betrays you very deeply. Then, for the rest of your life you don’t have this innate self confidence that other young kids have … you question everything you thought you knew about love and who you are and your identity.’

During the years of abuse Lane said, ‘I was friggin’ terrified, I can tell you that … I was scared for the rest of my life – just afraid of everything … I mean, he’s a sociopath’.

Until Grade 2 Lane didn’t speak at school. Despite an above average IQ he had learning difficulties, not helped by ‘nuns that used to beat me’.

Lane moved away and so did Walsh, but that didn’t stop him. Walsh would contact his mother and tell her to send Lane to him for a visit.

‘He molested me on the way there and then I had to sleep in his room for about, I don’t know, three or four weeks whilst I was there.’

In one town where Walsh was parish priest ‘he was strapping guys to the pool table and whatnot, getting the pool cue into them and stuff’ in front of Lane, as well as several other boys, including his younger cousin. ‘We had like a harem. That’s what it was like.’

Lane remains bitter about how his mother enabled the abuse. He was recently reminded of a scene from his childhood when she prepared to send him back to Walsh.

‘I was like, “No, no,” begging, clinging to my sister saying, “Don’t send me back. Don’t send me back!” And Mum’s like, “You’re going back. I need a rest”. She was a shit mum, put it that way.’

In the mid-1980s, shortly before leaving home, Lane disclosed the abuse to his mother and stepfather.

His mother’s reaction ‘and I’ll never forget this, “I guess we should forgive him”’. She also commented that ‘Now I know why in prayer group he’s always saying, “God, I’m such a sinner. I’m such a sinner,” so emotively.’

Lane’s ‘devout’ stepfather then met with the local bishops who told him they were aware of Walsh and had made efforts for him to seek treatment, had moved him around – even overseas – because of ‘troubles’.

‘He said quite unequivocally that they … they in Rome, that they in the highest echelons here in Australia are aware of his [Walsh’s] problems,’ Lane said.

The Church leaders were ‘trying to make themselves out to be nice guys to him [Lane’s stepfather] but all I could see when he came back was, “Hey, they moved this guy around and allowed him to molest me year after fucking year”. And not just me but other kids, and they knew about it.’

Lane described the Catholic Church as a ‘paedophile ring ... These guys are predators. They’re sociopaths, that’s their nature, you know. They don’t have any compassion. You know Walsh is well known for torturing young boys.’

When he was 16 and out of home he was persuaded by his ‘terrible mother … a sick, deranged person’ to contact a priest in Melbourne. When he did so, Lane was taken to a darkened room where he saw two terrified boys with a priest. He could see what was happening, and going to happen, and promptly fled.

After his natural father died and he left school, Lane was thrown out of home and had a long psychotic episode. ‘I basically lost my mind.’ Afterwards he moved to the city, slept with hundreds of women, abused drugs – ‘every stupid mistake’.

In his 20s Lane was ‘real angry’ and sued the Church, receiving about $80,000 in compensation. He was also ‘very angry’ that when Walsh was charged he ‘only got four years for what he did to me, very angry, because he stole my life from me’. He recommended ‘in the most strongest terms’ that priests not be allowed in any high school.

Lane remains angry also at the amount of physical pain that has evolved over the years during and since his sexual abuse. ‘You just want to die, the amount of pain I was in in my arse … it fuckin’ sucked … like, to have that physical pain all the time and that mental and emotional anguish and pain caused by this, I’m fuming about it.’

He feels his immune system has become weak from decades of incredible stress. ‘I’m just broken’.

Lane is adamant that what is labelled ‘paedophilia’ and ‘molestation’ should be called what it is – ‘child rape’. ‘I would like to see that changed by the Royal Commission – it’s child rape.’

‘I would also like to say that there’s no such thing as an expert … Unless you’ve been molested, as they call it, or raped as a child, you’re not an expert. You’re an observer.’

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