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Rainer Joseph's story

Rainer began boarding at a Sydney Marist Brothers school in the 1980s, when he was in his first year of secondary school. His boarding master, Brother Marlowe, ‘controlled the hours of the dorm’ and the allocation of students’ chores. ‘He dictated everything. Basically every part of our lives he dictated.’

Initially Marlowe treated Rainer kindly, allowing him to call his mother on his birthday and giving him extra soft drinks after hours. Marlowe had his own room at the end of the boys’ dormitory and told Rainer he could visit after ‘lights out’ to watch television and consume soft drinks once the Brother had completed his nightly patrols. Rainer felt very special and privileged by this attention and offer, especially as his father was a tough man who did not show him affection.

When Rainer took up Marlowe’s invitation and went to the room one night the Brother began to fondle his genitals, telling him that nobody else need know what they were doing.

This abuse occurred a number of times during the first term until Rainer asked Marlowe if he could call him ‘Dad’. This request seemed to greatly upset the Brother, who said ‘no’ and began to treat Rainer harshly afterwards.

Rainer never went back to Marlowe’s room. From then on Rainer felt like he was victimised and physically disciplined for the most minor infractions. Being embarrassed by the abuse and not thinking he would be believed, he did not tell anyone what had happened.

After a couple of years Marlowe left the school and moved to another Marist college in Sydney. Rainer knows that at least one boy at this second school made a police report about Marlowe and feels guilt about this, thinking that if he had reported his experiences at the time he may have prevented others from being abused.

Rainer did not disclose the abuse until contacting the Royal Commission, after seeing media coverage of a public hearing about a different Marist school, and has now reported it to police. He has also informed his mother, which was very difficult. ‘My mum asked me why I didn’t tell her, ‘cause she said Dad would have been out there [to the school] straight away.’

Rainer told the Commissioner that police had advised him Marlowe was soon to be charged with offences against himself and another man. As yet he has not approached the school or Marist Brothers about any kind of reparation or acknowledgement, and does not believe an apology from them or Marlowe would mean much to him.

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