Mario was looking for a mentor, a father figure – someone he could trust. He spent most of his childhood living with his grandparents because his parents were constantly fighting. Things got really bad when Mario was 12 and he hated seeing his parents fight.
Father James Lincroft was a priest in the local Catholic parish, and often visited Mario’s school for church services. He had always been around the family as he was related to Mario’s mother.
Mario spent time with Lincroft on the weekends and after church services, and was offered a job mowing Lincroft’s lawn and the church’s lawn on weekends. He always talked to Lincroft when he visited the school or after mass, and looked up to the priest because he was kind.
‘In terms of people that are adults, I think he was fairly well respected. But in terms of the attitudes and opinions of people I went to school with, he was fairly stern. The sort of guy you wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of.’
In the early 2000s, when Mario was 14, his grandmother took him and his siblings on a holiday to see his aunty in another town. He was excited that Lincroft was going with them.
At his aunty’s house, Mario shared a bed with Lincroft because there weren’t separate beds for all of them. ‘I remember waking up in the morning with him touching me. I just lay there thinking, “What the hell is happening?” I had no idea. That’s how it started.’
Mario often visited Lincroft and stayed over at the presbytery. Lincroft continued to come on family holidays, and would always get Mario alone and sexually abuse him. This abuse continued for several years, continuing even when Mario was in his 20s.
At the time Mario felt that he and Lincroft were in a relationship, and so didn’t think what was happening was wrong. With the benefit of hindsight he still can’t believe that no one around him questioned his connection with Lincroft.
In the 2000s Lincroft was transferred to a different parish. He visited Mario’s family home occasionally and they continued their sexual relationship.
Lincroft was always jealous of Mario’s connections with others. Mario remembers getting into numerous disagreements with him over his friendships and love interests. When Mario was 21 he met his current partner, Lucy.
‘When I met Lucy, I decided I was going to maintain a relationship with her … [Lincroft] was degrading with the comments that he made. I told him it wasn’t acceptable.’
At this point, Mario ended the relationship with Lincroft, and ceased all forms of contact with him.
Mario moved to another town with his partner. He picked up full-time work and has been happy with his employment. Still he didn’t tell anyone what occurred between him and Lincroft.
This all changed a year before Mario met with the Royal Commission. He first disclosed the details of the abuse to Lucy, which was hard. He then told Lucy’s parents, his grandmother and aunty. He found it hard to digest that many people had had suspicions about Lincroft, however he was relieved that they all supported and believed him about the abuse.
Mario has not yet told his parents or siblings about the abuse. He has not reported Lincroft to the police or the Catholic Church but would like to. He wanted to focus on his relationship with his partner and family before he took any civil action.
Mario is uncomfortable around older men, especially clergy. He finds it difficult to change in public change rooms. He has left the Catholic Church and has no intention of returning. He finds it hard sometimes to observe normal boundaries in conversation.
‘At times I am sexually inappropriate in particular situations where I wish I wasn’t. It’s almost like I’ve been desensitised from that boundary. I’m finding it difficult.’