Reginald was born at the end of the Great Depression, and grew up both very poor and strictly Catholic in regional New South Wales. At school ‘we were indoctrinated, constantly told about vocations and the desirability of entering the priesthood or religious orders’.
When Reginald was 14 years old a De La Salle Brother, Brother Purdy, came to visit his high school to discuss the options for vocations with the boys. ‘He asked me what I thought about a religious life, and I said we were taught that was desirable.’
Purdy suggested that Reginald could complete his schooling at the order’s juniorate college in Sydney, then decide if he wished to pursue this vocation further. Reginald agreed to this and a short while later Purdy took him to the college by train, stopping at presbyteries in small towns along the way to break the journey.
During one of these overnight stays Brother Purdy began fondling Reginald’s genitals, and he then raped him three times in one night.
Reginald did not think that anyone would believe his word over that of a Brother, as that is what Purdy had told him, so he didn’t disclose the abuse to anyone at the time. He has since learned that Purdy was a known paedophile who had been removed from a teaching position in the order’s schools, and sent by the Brothers to recruit young boys for the priesthood instead – which ensured he was able to be alone with individual boys regularly.
As a teenager Reginald was subjected to further abuse at the college. One of the teaching Brothers attempted to pull down his pants and grab his genitals, while another Brother molested him on the pretence of ‘inspecting’ his penis to make sure he had been washing himself properly.
After this latter incident Reginald realised the whole college was a ‘hive of paedophiles’, and immediately requested permission to leave.
He went on to get married and have a large family of his own, and blocked out memories of the sexual abuse as much as he could, although he found it difficult to trust or be close to people. ‘I became wary of making friends, I suppose cynical, having been once betrayed. These offences have never left me.’
It was decades before he told anyone about what the Brothers had done, as he felt great shame and embarrassment. ‘I have worn this stain for 69 years. I was married twice and I did not tell either of my wives.’
‘After perhaps 40 years I told a few people’, including the doctor he had been seeing for many years, and some of his children. He has reported to the police too, but they were not very interested as the Brothers who abused him are all deceased. ‘I tried to get a copy of the police report but was told it was confidential.’
Reginald has contacted the De La Salle Brothers, who could not find records of his time at the juniorate but who nonetheless accepted his account. He has now received victims of crime compensation, and has engaged lawyers regarding civil action.
Although it has not been easy to start talking about these experiences, Reginald ‘found the more I opened up about my past, the less guilt I felt myself’. He now believes that if he had confided in his friends and family sooner he may have had an easier life. ‘When I told my daughter this she just cried. She said, “Dad, that explains a lot of things”.’