After being relinquished by his mother when he was two years old, Stan was placed in several orphanages before arriving at a Christian Brothers boys’ home in Victoria.
Brother Benton came to the orphanage in the early 1950s, and not long after his arrival began sexually abusing 12-year-old Stan. It took Stan nearly six decades to be able to talk about, because he felt ‘so ashamed’.
Stan was sexually abused by Benton several times a week for more than two years. He didn’t talk about it with other boys at the time, but is now aware that Benton was abusing others. Stan knew of two boys who later took their own lives.
One day, during a drive, Benton pulled the car over and started to touch and fondle Stan, who burst into tears. Benton stopped, but sometime later he made Stan come to his room, undress and perform oral sex on him.
Stan didn’t feel like he could tell anyone then nor in later years.
‘I can’t explain why I was unable to say it. The main thing was feeling ashamed.’
Benton told Stan that he was loving him ‘like a father’. He bought him a watch and gave him money and cigarettes.
Stan met his wife, Kerry, in the early 1960s and they married soon after. He continued to have contact with Benton because he wanted ‘to make out that everything was fine’ and that nothing had happened.
When Benton came to see the couple’s new baby, Stan implored his wife not to leave him alone with Benton. Kerry thought Stan’s behaviour odd, but he didn’t tell her about the abuse for another 20 years.
Stan said he’d been worried about losing her. For Kerry, knowing the truth of what Stan had gone through had been difficult, but ultimately made them closer.
In the mid-2000s, Stan found out that his mother had died 18 months earlier. They’d had little contact in the intervening years, but her death ‘triggered something and I went to my doctor’.
Stan disclosed the abuse and was referred to a psychologist. He was also given legal advice and it was recommended that he get in contact with the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing program.
A senior staff member of Towards Healing visited Stan at home. Stan asked if he’d heard of Benton abusing boys and the staff member said he had.
‘It was a huge relief off my shoulders.’
When Stan asked if he wanted to know what Benton had done to him, the man replied that he didn’t need to know and offered him $20,000.
A law firm working with Stan sought $50,000 but the Church wouldn’t agree. The matter continued until the early 2010s, when it was settled with a payment to Stan of $210,000, which included $30,000 for legal fees.
‘I wasn’t looking for payment of that type. I was wanting something that would let me say, yes, it’s finalised and acknowledged.’
Persistence from Stan’s son also resulted in Stan receiving a letter of apology from the Catholic Church.
Stan told the Commissioner that he was looking forward to his upcoming wedding anniversary. He’s close to his children and grandchildren, and doesn’t have trouble showing love to them, ‘because that’s what I wanted. Badly’.