It was the 1980s and 16-year-old Travis was working nights at the local shop. Two doors down the street was an Anglican Church, ministered by a priest named Chris Lowie.
Lowie was a regular customer at the shop. He liked to chat with Travis, and Travis, whose parents were both Anglicans, felt quite comfortable chatting back. ‘He was pleasant’, Travis said. ‘You’d never pick it.’
One night Travis mentioned to the priest that he had to finish a late shift and be back for an early start tomorrow. Lowie offered to put Travis up at the rectory to save him the hassle of travelling all the way home and back again. Travis thought this was a great idea.
That night, Travis went to sleep in a room at the rectory. Sometime later he woke to find Lowie abusing him. The next day Travis was reeling. He felt angry and disappointed at himself for ‘letting it happen’. He didn’t know what to do. He thought about telling his dad, but decided against it.
‘He was a man’s man, so there was no physical contact, if you like, between us. It was all verbal. And it didn’t feel right to tell him.’
Travis kept silent and his life rolled on. He drank too much and withdrew into himself.
‘It sort of shuts you down socially’, he said. ‘You become more of a, not so much a recluse, but tend to prefer your own company.’
Eleven years went by before he realised that he had to confront his past.
‘I was having a lot of nightmares and the person I was living with actually asked me, “Who is this ‘Chris’ that you keep on screaming out at night?” That’s when I realised: this needs to be fixed.’
Travis reported Lowie to police, who informed him that he wasn’t the only person to complain about the priest. Lowie was charged, convicted and sentenced to community service. A short while later he killed himself. Travis is still angry about that.
‘What really irks me is: went to court, he got the community service for what he did to me. There were further charges pending and he goes out and kills himself. I wanted to see justice served and that was taken away.’
On top of that, Travis is disappointed with the Church. It came out during the police investigation that Lowie had confessed his paedophilic tendencies to another Anglican priest.
‘So the Church was fully aware of it, but they didn’t act on it.’