‘To me, he joined the priesthood to do what he did. And he got away with it. They let him get away with it for 20-odd years.’
In the mid-1970s, while his father was in hospital for many months, ‘young and naive’ Rodd was sexually abused by Father Dominic Taylor, a priest in his New South Wales parish.
‘Everything was fine up until the beginning of fifth class when we started altar boy practice’, Rodd said. ‘Two weeks into the altar boy practice, and then on till the end of the year, I was the last one dropped home every day.’ Rodd became upset as he recalled how Taylor ‘used to suck my penis every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon no further than 50 metres from my house … Stop the car, take his glasses off, change into another man completely, every Tuesday and Thursday.
‘He also encouraged me to masturbate, put things in my anus. And he used to, every time we were alone, he’d ask have I been doing those things.’
Rodd soon realised that Taylor was also abusing other boys at his Catholic primary school. ‘You could see all the boys that he touched ‘cause none of them went to communion.’ One boy later told him that Taylor had kept a book which ‘had a list of every boy that he molested’.
On one occasion, Taylor abused Rodd and other altar boys at the same time. Afterwards, the boys agreed to tell their parents. ‘Well, I went home, because it had been happening to me for so long I just didn’t even think to tell Mum.’
However, when one of the boy’s parents later came to his house, Rodd admitted in front of his mother that Dominic Taylor ‘actually put his mouth over my penis … I didn’t know what it was … It did feel good, but I had no options. What was I to do? Who was I to tell?’
Some parents then notified the school, Monsignor Colin Roseman and Bishop Ron Davidson about the boys’ disclosure. Taylor was quickly transferred to another parish. The boys were never asked about what had happened, or offered support or counselling.
Only Rodd’s teacher Alan Burton expressed concern for him. ‘He called me to his desk in fifth class after it all blew up and asked me … “What happened? What did he do?” And I told him. And he was utterly disgusted … He took a lot of care of me even though he left after fifth class. He put me, he started me into basketball.’
Despite Burton’s kindness, Rodd lost interest in school.
‘I was molested and raped, and my morals taken away from me, everything. I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I left school in third form because of this priest. Everything taken away from me, and I cannot understand why they didn’t do anything. I’m dumbfounded.’
The Catholic Church – which Rodd described as ‘a bunch of poofters and paedophiles’ – ‘knew everything’ about the sexual abuse at his primary school. So did his community. In Rodd’s mid-teens, a mate asked him during a sleepover, ‘Is it true what Taylor done? The rumours?’ A bloke in the street caught Rodd’s attention by calling him by the sexually suggestive nickname many had given to Taylor. A ‘screwed up’ classmate who broached the subject with him later took his own life. ‘All the kids knew. All the adults knew. What do the Catholics expect? That just time will heal this? Never. Never.’
In his mid-20s, Rodd reconnected with a primary school friend, Tim Sinclair. Rodd said that, until then, ‘we could never face each other or talk to each other because we both knew what happened’. After a chance meeting, they ‘just embraced, started crying’. Rodd and Tim confided in each other, searched long and hard for a willing solicitor, and took their matter to the police.
‘When we went through the police proceedings, I still wasn’t willing to admit how many times this man, this bastard, animal, got me. But the older I get … I just feel that people need to know how bad the Catholic Church is, how corrupt. People go on about the mafia, you know, bikie gangs. What about the Church? What about the Church? They let boys get raped and send the priest away and then don’t even come and speak to the boys and ask them, you know, their feelings on anything.’
During Taylor’s subsequent trial, other men who had been students at the primary school came forward to give evidence. Rodd said that Taylor – like ‘all Catholic priests’ – pleaded guilty, ‘therefore … nothing can go to the paper, which in my eyes is bullshit. People should’ve been told what he done, and what he continued to do for years and years. In my eyes, Roseman and Ron Davidson are responsible. How they were never charged has got me stuffed’.
In the 1990s, after Taylor went to prison, Rodd, Tim and ‘all the blokes who were involved in the criminal proceedings’ met with a bishop and Church lawyers to discuss compensation. During Rodd’s meeting, the bishop revealed some information which made Rodd see ‘red’ and disclose something about a separate matter which the lawyers then used against him. Rodd said that ‘I was never real smart ‘cause of what happened to me’, so he bowed to pressure and accepted a settlement which was half the amount awarded to another man ‘who got touched once or twice’.
Now in his early 50s, Rodd is changing careers and setting up his own business. Despite his history of trust issues, he is close to his mum and sees Tim a few times a week. ‘They say talking helps … The only person that helps me is Tim. We bounce off each other. We keep each other going.’
In first form, shocked to see Taylor conducting a school mass, Rodd said ‘I wanted to run out of there, go up the road … and grab two of the biggest knives and go back and kill the fucker. I wish I did. After knowing what I do now, I wish I did. For him to rape all those boys after us, it makes me feel like you’re worthless. The thing that really hurts is we were children when this happened ...
‘I’ve been waiting for this day for 40 years to ask, “Why? Why did all these people cover it up? Sweep it under the carpet and let him keep doing it?”’