Mitch’s first memory of visiting an Anglican church was at the age of 14 when he attended his baby sister’s christening. His expression of awe at the ceremony and church surrounds led his mother to enrol him in confirmation classes, after which he started serving as altar boy in the local parish in Victoria.
One of his first services was a midnight mass one Christmas Day in the 1970s, following which a party was held in the vicarage that Mitch attended and was served alcohol. He’d arranged with his mother and stepfather that he’d stay the night in the vicarage and was surprised and uncomfortable to be told he’d be sharing the vicar’s double bed.
‘I got into the bed, turned the light off and I remember [the vicar] coming into bed some time later and he turned the light on in this complete silence really and he basically started committing an act of fellatio on me. I was completely unresponsive. I was frozen with fear.’
The vicar, Rex Timor, was in his early 40s and lived alone. When morning came, Mitch showered and prepared for services, but said he felt ashamed and couldn’t look the vicar in the face during mass. During his summer holiday, Mitch confided to a friend that Timor had performed oral sex on him. The friend told his mother, who then spoke to the bishop.
Mitch wasn’t sure exactly what was said but when he next saw Timor, he was threatened and asked if he’d told anyone. He answered that he had. Timor then told him to go away and not come back for two weeks because, he said, ‘The bishop is coming’.
Mitch heard nothing further about the bishop’s visit but said it ‘was left hanging like a sword over my head’.
He saw Timor as a father figure and was in awe of his charisma and authority, and in spite of the sexual abuse continuing, still felt drawn to him.
Mitch’s life was beginning to show signs of turmoil and he went from being a good student to one regularly thrown out of class and sent to the disciplinary master. His stepfather wanted him out of the house and his mother didn’t know what to do. He made his escape by enlisting as a junior navy recruit, but it didn’t work out and he left the navy after six months. Next he went to live with his father but after a short time his father’s marriage broke up and his father’s partner blamed Mitch.
Now homeless and in his final year of school, Mitch rang the vicar and asked if he could come and stay with him. Timor said, ’Yes’.
During this time Mitch started a relationship with a school friend, David. He was also contemplating a religious life, a scenario encouraged by Timor who kept telling him he had a vocation. As part of his exploration, Mitch made a trip to a monastery and was accompanied by David and Timor.
On the way they stayed a night in a motel with the two boys in one bed and Timor in the other. During the night Timor got into the boys’ bed and tried to initiate sex, but was rebutted and became violent. ‘Prior to that incident I had become an unwilling partner to sex with the vicar two to three times a week in the vicarage and sometimes at his mother’s house.’
After the trip, the whole dynamic changed and Timor would force himself on Mitch. He was also physically abusive.
Mitch eventually left when free university education gave him the opportunity to get out and move into a residence on campus. ‘It was a major turning point for me.’
In the 1990s, Timor was still serving as a minister and Mitch reported the abuse in a telephone call to the Anglican bishop. He was given a ‘kind hearing’. In the early 2000s, he made another telephone call of complaint and a few years later, was encouraged by a friend to make a formal written complaint to the Melbourne diocese.
Mitch was disappointed with the subsequent investigation and its outcome which he said was long and protracted. ‘I started in the spirit of reconciliation and it ended up with complete alienation.’ He felt the investigator wanted to finalise the matter quickly and the apology given seemed perfunctory and didn’t name Timor as offender.
No compensation was offered until Mitch rang and spoke with a representative of the church who asked him what he wanted. ‘She said, “That’s a figure I can deal with right now”, $20,000.’ He’d come up with the amount on the spur of the moment and regrets not giving it more thought.
Though he now works in a good job as a healthcare professional, Mitch regrets lost opportunities and feels he’s under-achieved throughout his life. He was an alcoholic for 25 years until he ‘got sober’ in the 2000s. He lost his faith in religion and God, and had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which he described as ‘outright fear’. He has attempted suicide three times.
At some point, Timor left the Anglican Church and became a minister in an evangelical church. Timor died in the early 2000s, and Mitch maintained sporadic contact with him until that time because he had ‘a love-hate relationship’ with him.
‘I forgive this man. I don’t forgive the Church. It’s taken a long time but I can’t move on if I can’t forgive. He was a broken, wicked man, but I can forgive him.’