Richard Luke's story

Richard was born the youngest in a large family in the mid-1950s. His primary school years were uneventful, and he was always a good student who didn’t get into any trouble. When Richard was 13 years old he began attending a Sydney Catholic school, which was run by the De La Salle Brothers.

One day Brother McWilliams called Richard up to his office. When he got there Richard was instructed to unzip McWilliams’s trousers, exposing his erection. McWilliams began to masturbate, encouraging Richard to touch him too. This made Richard extremely uncomfortable and he fled the room.

Richard told some of his school friends about this incident. With their encouragement he reported McWilliams to the acting principal, who said that he would look into it and then sent him back to class.

He thinks that McWilliams was then moved into another position in a ‘sideways move’ but no further action was taken.

Richard himself did not receive any support, and he does not believe the school ever advised his parents of the matter. At the end of his first year he was asked to leave the school for being ‘troublesome’.

During this same year Richard joined his local Scout troop, which was headed by Mr Simpson. He attended a number of camps with Simpson, and would sometimes sleep over at his house so he could go to a camp or other scouting activity the next day. During these overnight stays Simpson would encourage Richard to masturbate while he was in the room, and also to perform oral sex, all while his girlfriend was asleep in the next room.

There was an incident on one of the camps where Simpson was swimming naked with his girlfriend in the pool and knew that Richard and a friend were watching. He turned around and smiled at them, which appeared to be an encouragement for the boys to keep looking.

Another time Simpson set up a tent near the pool and took Richard there, making him perform oral sex before raping him.

After leaving the school Richard moved to a Catholic boarding school. Staff intercepted a letter he wrote to Simpson that gave them reason to be concerned about their relationship, and he was questioned by the principal. The school then encouraged his mother to write to Simpson advising him to cease all contact with Richard.

Nobody ever spoke directly to Richard about the matter, so he did not disclose the abuse at the time. ‘If someone asked me questions directly I may have answered them. But the opportunity was never given for me to elaborate on particular events.’ As a result ‘I was just left to carry it ... Mum was very non-confrontational, and Dad pretty much the same ... They were too busy doing their own things’.

When Richard was discovered in a toilet cubicle with another boy he was asked to leave the school, but the other boy was permitted to remain. At his next school he had a sexual encounter with a different boy, and wanting to impress him, arranged to meet up with Simpson. This encounter was awkward however and the two boys soon left.

At 15, Richard was asked to leave this school too. He went to work but struggled as a young man, getting into drugs and a hedonistic lifestyle. He also had a child while still in his teens.

In his early 20s he moved across the country to get a ‘mental shift to straighten out’ by surrounding himself with different people, and he married and had further children. That marriage lasted more than two decades, and when he and his wife separated he sought counselling.

Richard told his counsellor about the sexual abuse he had experienced, and this was the first time he had ever disclosed it. The counsellor was very good and Richard had a number of sessions with her. ‘She was extremely helpful, gave me a lot of strength. The sessions were quite traumatic for me.’ In addition ‘the counselling helped me realise that I’m not the perpetrator here – I’m the victim’.

He also disclosed to his ex-wife. She was supportive but not surprised given various behaviours he had exhibited over the years, including being very protective of their children. ‘I just felt there was a dark side of life out there and they needed to be protected from it.’

Since first contacting the Royal Commission, Richard has made a statement to police about Simpson, and an investigation is ongoing. In the meantime he tries to ‘enjoy life, and armed with the benefit of those counselling sessions, I’ve become stronger with the whole situation ... I’m stronger, but I can’t help I’m still hurt, demoralised, and angry.’

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