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Lochie's story

When a now known paedophile Brother indecently assaulted Lochie in the bath at a prestigious New South Wales Catholic boarding school he did not realise it was a crime.

It was the early 1960s and Lochie had been a boarder from country New South Wales since the age of 10, sent by his hardworking, but routinely moving parents who wanted him to have stability in his education.

Brother Elis was the master in his dormitory and slept in what was called the dormitory ‘cell’ which housed the Brother’s bed.

‘I’ll tell you what – and this was 50 years ago – but he got me in a bath ... I don’t remember the lead up to it. How he got me in there I’ve got no idea.’

But Lochie well remembers the one incident.

‘He’s obviously got me and then he’s sort of gone for my groin area and the thigh area and all that sort of stuff and I’ve sort of pulled back a bit in the water ... I know I said “I’m out of here”, basically.

‘Then he left me alone – never approached me again the whole time,’ said Lochie of the five years he later learned that Brother Elis had been at the school.

‘I didn’t know what to do, to be honest. My mother and father were living in [another country town] … It didn’t appear to be right but do I go and speak to the Brothers [when] this is the Brother who has done this to me?’

Lochie told none of his friends or classmates. ‘I just let it go. I just said, “Oh, just get on with it Lochie”.’

And he most definitely did not tell either of his parents, who he thought might have been Opus Dei Catholics or his father a Knight of the Southern Cross. Both were very ‘staunch Catholics’ who he remembered took priests and Brothers for outings to the ocean when the family lived in a coastal town.

Lochie decided to wait until the death of his mother, who long outlived her husband, before telling anyone.

‘It would have destroyed her beliefs in Catholicism … that sort of bastion of authority and care and stuff like that, particularly as I was at boarding school and I was only 15. It would have just absolutely just knocked her that something like this could have occurred within a religious order', he said.

And although Lochie is adamant that his child sexual abuse was mild compared to the stories of others he had seen on television, he dropped his religion after leaving school.

He said his former wife and girlfriends ‘would say [Lochie] you’re a dead-set loner. I can’t get into your head’.

‘Now I don’t put that down to what happened to me with the incident. I’d probably put it down to someone who went away to boarding school as a 10-year-old.’

Lochie said, ‘I probably drank more when I was younger and probably did some dumb things … I had a few people say to me “you should probably pull your head in a bit”. And a lot of it revolved around alcohol, women and sport and football … but apart from that I’ve never virtually touched drugs'.

During his years at the school Lochie never heard talk about Brother Elis. When he left, at 18, he obtained a degree in economics and went on to have stable employment for the rest of his working life.

Only once, in the 1990s, coincidentally when stories of child sexual abuse had begun to gain media attention, he ran into an old school friend. Either at a reunion or a football match, the friend, now a lawyer, mentioned that Brother Elis had been charged in relation to a time when he had molested a boy at a preparatory school.

‘I never said, “Oh mate, he had a go at me”. I just let it all go. I thought, “Good, they got him”.’

In fact, Lochie later learned that Brother Elis’s single charge had resulted in a good behaviour bond. After that the Marist order had sent him to America. Later, when more former students came forward Elis was extradited to face many more charges – all of which were eventually stayed when it was put to a court that he had developed dementia.

Lochie wanted the Royal Commission to know about Elis in case there were other students like himself or younger boys at the preparatory school who had registered abused for whom he could add weight to numbers.

‘Obviously we don’t want this to occur ever again. That’s obviously what it’s all about. I don’t think it’s done any damage to me but it’s obviously done damage from what I’ve seen to some of these poor people on the telly … screwed up something shocking.’

Lochie said: ‘It was just something I wanted to tell someone and put it forward …This stuff’s got to stop and I think I got off pretty lightly … maybe because I knocked him back he went somewhere else.’

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