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Wally's story

Wally left high school at the end of his second year because he was desperate to get away from Brother Frederick, the Marist Brothers teacher who repeatedly sexually abused him throughout the early 1960s.

After his mother died, Wally and his siblings and father found lodgings at the home of Mrs O’Farrell. She was a strict Catholic who pressured Wally’s father to send his son to the Marist Brothers’ school, even though the family was of Church of England background.

From the time he arrived, Wally felt singled out by Brother Frederick. ‘He just, he used to cane me, you know, he caned you all the time. It was only me. I always thought it was because I wasn’t Catholic. I used to go home and tell Dad and Mrs O’Farrell and they just used to say, “You need to stop playing up” and that.’

A few weeks after he arrived at the regional New South Wales school, Wally was told by Brother Frederick to stay back after class. By then Wally was so scared that he’d lose control of his bladder at the sight of him. On this occasion, Brother Frederick started fondling Wally’s penis at the same time as forcing Wally’s hand to masturbate him. After ejaculating, he told Wally to leave.

The following week, Wally was again told to stay back and this time Brother Frederick raped him. ‘I just screamed’, Wally said. ‘I kept looking at the door thinking someone would come. Someone had to hear me. He told me to be quiet. When he stopped he told me to get out. I told him then, I said, “I’m going home and tell my dad”. And when Dad come home from work I showed him and that, and my dad said not to tell anybody. He told me we’d get kicked out. He said, “Mrs O’Farrell’s not going to believe it”. I thought my dad would go and beat him up, ‘cause my dad, he could fight. He said, “You just got to be quiet. It won’t be long and I’ll get another place and you won’t have to put up with it”.’

It was months before Wally’s father found a new home. In the meantime, Wally was raped and made to perform oral sex on Brother Frederick almost weekly. The severity and frequency of beatings also increased, with Wally being caned and hit across the face at random. When it was time for his younger brother to go to school, he was sent to the government high school.

Wally told the Commissioner that the relationship with his father deteriorated rapidly after his disclosure. ‘I hated my own dad for that. I hated him so much. I couldn’t believe he did it.’ At the same time as Wally left school he moved out of home, living on the street and staying where he could with people he met along the way.

Almost immediately, Wally began drinking heavily. ‘I didn’t know anything else after a while. It got worse.’ Over several decades he continued to drink and he often got into fights with men who were bigger and more powerful than him.

He met his wife, Jane, in the late 1960s and together they had three children. Wally said he ‘started belting her’ and ‘didn’t know how she stayed’. He didn’t trust anyone, he said, especially around his children. ‘I gave them a shit life …. I wouldn’t let them do nothing. They come home after school, that’s where they stayed.’

As far as possible, Wally took jobs where he worked by himself. After the disclosure to his father in 1962, he didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until 2012 when he was contacted by NSW Police. They were making inquiries about Brother Frederick in relation to allegations of child sexual abuse at the school. A person had once seen Wally running and crying from the classroom and had mentioned his name to police.

After the initial shock, Wally made a statement and Brother Frederick was charged and pleaded guilty to a series of assaults on Wally and many others. Publicity for the case led to more men coming forward and the Marist Brother was found guilty and jailed on 19 charges.

Wally said he wouldn’t have considered going to the police off his own bat because he thought Brother Frederick would be either too old or dead. While he was glad to see a jail sentence imposed, he’d mainly wanted to ‘see his name in the paper’. And although people kept telling him the eight-year sentence was a good result, Wally didn’t think there was any comparison between it and what he and the others had gone through. ‘We got life’, he said.

Throughout the investigation and court process, Wally felt well supported, saying the police ‘couldn’t do enough for me’. He was also helped by a community agency and a counsellor without whom, he said, he wouldn’t have been able to continue. Nor would he have come forward to the Royal Commission. ‘Sitting here talking to you, I would never do this. Never talk to anybody.’

At the suggestion of police, Wally left his written statement on the dining room table at home for his wife and children to read. Though his wife wasn’t able to finish it, Wally felt it went some way to helping her and the children understand him and the way he’d been as a husband and father.

He said he still cried sometimes, but ‘I sleep better’. He hoped to be able to take his wife out one evening for dinner, something he’d never previously been able to do.

‘I still don’t trust a lot of people. I don’t drink anymore … I just hope there’s not too many more of these people out there. You go to school, you don’t expect that from the teacher.’

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