Troy told the Commissioner that at age 11 he was, ‘sent away to boarding school, like a lot of country kids’. It was the early 1960s and the school was a Catholic boarding school run by Jesuit priests.
One night Troy was engaged in a ‘bit of argy bargy’ with one of the other boys. The kid hit him with a pillow and just as Troy was about to retaliate, Father Ross, the young priest in charge of the dorm, intervened. Troy said, ‘So he used that as an excuse to strap me’. Normally the strappings occurred in front of everyone but on this occasion Father Ross took Troy into a private room nearby. He got him to take his pyjama bottoms off and lie on the bed face down.
‘The really strange thing, he gave me two strokes of the strap and it did not hurt. It was really weird. There was something fishy about what was going on. His night’s entertainment when the lights were out.’
Troy didn’t mention the incident to anyone at the time because he didn’t really understand what had happened and mostly just thought it was weird.
There were no more incidents of sexual abuse at the school but Troy endured another year or so of violent punishments. He did what he could to keep his sense of humour alive. At age 12 he confessed to the sin of adultery just to see what would happen. The priest didn’t get the joke.
At the end of the year Troy moved to another Catholic boarding school. There he encountered Brother Gutzman, a charismatic man who was popular among the boys. One winter's day, ‘after a bit of banter’, Gutzman asked Troy to come up to his room. Troy arrived early and waited.
‘He comes in going, “It’s cold, let’s hop into bed”, and just grabs me and starts fondling me and stuff like that.’
Brother Gutzman then tried to push things further but Troy resisted and managed to get away. Sometime later, the Brother took him up to the room again and there was more fondling. He tried to get Troy up to the room a few times after that, but Troy would ‘put on a bit of a scene and start crying’ and eventually the Brother gave up.
Again, Troy didn’t report the abuse to anyone. This time it was because he didn’t think his fundamentalist Catholic parents would believe him.
Over the years, Troy discussed the matter a few times with his brother but other than that he kept it to himself. His answer to how he managed to cope with the psychological impact of the abuse was simple: ‘drugs’.
Troy had dabbled in marijuana from a young age but after a ‘devastating’ break up he felt like he needed something stronger.
‘I had no one to talk to. It was really strange. I was so isolated. … I could see the dangers and what I could lose. I thought, I’ve got no choice. I’m going to end up necking myself.’
He used heroin for about six years. To stop himself from falling too far he always smoked it and never injected. He now credits the drug with saving his life. ‘If you’re going to cut your wrists,’ he said, ‘I recommend using heroin first’.
It had its drawbacks. ‘Expensive. I lost everything of course. I was working for myself, lost my business.’
Troy said it took a long time to get off the drug. He tried everything from acupuncture to Narcotics Anonymous and eventually managed to get clean and piece his life back together, rebuilding the business that he’s still running today.
He told the Commissioner that much of his success is due to honest self-examination. He said that one of the things he’s taken away from his Catholic heritage is the drive to ‘examine your conscience. If you’re honest with yourself you can get through a lot of stuff that way’.