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Samuel's story

Samuel was born in the early 1970s. His parents were separated and he lived with his mother. In the mid-1980s he commenced high school as a boarder at a college run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. Samuel thrived there, playing football, music and participating in cadets.

Things changed at the start of Year 9. Samuel had spent a lot of time doing water sports in the lake and had developed a skin rash. Father Devon, who was his dormitory master as well as football coach, called Samuel into his office. He asked him to take his clothes off, including his underwear. He then made Samuel lie on the bed and proceeded to rub calamine lotion into his groin area for a long time. After that, he rubbed the lotion into Samuel’s buttocks and anus for a long time. Samuel remembers Father Devon breathing heavily while rubbing.

Samuel was too intimidated to call for help. For the next few nights, he slept in his locker rather than his bed and ignored messages from Father Devon, sent through other boys, to come and have more lotion applied. He made sure that he was never alone with Father Devon.

From this point, Samuel’s behaviour deteriorated. He got into trouble at school and felt increasingly isolated.

In the late 1980s, when Samuel was in Year 10, Father Devon left the school amongst talk that there had been a complaint about him. Samuel felt that he could now speak and he disclosed the abuse to the school counsellor and then to another staff member. They said that no one would believe his story because of his past record of bad behaviour. He told his mother who also didn't believe his story, something she now regrets.

Samuel left the college at the end of Year 10, finishing Year 11 and Year 12 at a local Catholic school. By this stage, he was living in a youth refuge because his relationship with his family had deteriorated.

He was drinking and taking drugs and tried to suicide in the mid-1990s, but his wife called an ambulance.

Samuel has now made a complaint to the police and has consulted a law firm about a possible group civil action, separate from any criminal proceeding.

‘I am not concerned about compensation; my biggest hope there is that it will force the school and the Church to take these things far more seriously in the future, and not treat kids as they treated me.’

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