Roland was never sexually abused himself but told the Commissioner, ‘I certainly witnessed it’.
Roland was born in the late 1940s. His mother died when he was 12 years old and he was sent to live in an Anglican boys’ home. The home was run by a man named Kevin Waterson who physically, psychologically and sexually abused the boys. Roland said, ‘I guess the things that I remember most are the sexual atrocities, the brutality and punishments that we endured’.
Waterson would beat boys as young as six with the cane and his fists. As an additional punishment he often withheld food and forced the boys to go hungry for days on end. At the same time he groomed them for sexual abuse by offering cigarettes.
Roland said that the sexual abuse took place in a large shed where some of the boys had built a hiding place. It was from this hiding place that Roland witnessed what Waterson was doing.
‘I watched boys masturbating him, him masturbating boys. And it was only a reflection in later years: I think he knew we were in there … and it didn’t matter to him because he was going to groom us all anyway.’
From time to time, boys escaped from the home. When they were picked up by the police they complained about what Waterson was doing to them. Many of the staff also complained about his behaviour. Nothing was done.
‘The police did nothing, because he was such an important man, Mr Waterson. No one would believe it.’
One time Roland ran away and stayed with some friends. Eventually they sent him back to the home, but first they rang Waterson.
‘They said, “We’re bringing Roland back but we want to be guaranteed that he won’t be punished”. Well, the moment they left he took me up into – there was a big shed … He took me up there, beat me black and blue. It was at least, I reckon, four or five days before I could go to school.’
Roland said that Waterson’s wife was ‘just as bad’. As far as he knows, she never sexually abused the boys, but she was physically brutal, sometimes turning her rings around so that the jewelry would dig into the boys’ faces when she struck them.
The Watersons left the home after a few years and a new couple took over. Roland said ‘it was like a transformation overnight’. The new couple were good people who took care of the boys.
Around this time, one of the staff members at the home took an interest in Roland.
‘She was a lovely lady and she saw some good in me, I don’t know why, and she sort of took me under her wing.’
Roland credits her and his wife as two of the key reasons he has managed to live such a successful life. He also gives some credit to the hard life he endured at the home, saying, ‘If it did anything, it made me want to achieve things in life’.
These days, Roland is focused on tracking down the other boys from the home. A few years back he tried to recover the home’s records from the local diocese.
‘They didn’t want to know about it. It was almost like they knew something. So I found it very had to find any information.’
Roland suspects that the Church was being evasive because it thought he was planning to sue. But Roland isn’t interested in legal action or any kind of redress.
‘I don’t need an apology. I just wish there was some way I could get in touch with those boys, perhaps help them in their life, if they had someone to talk to about it.’