CLERGY sex abuse survivor Philip Nagle asked for a minute’s silence following his testimony to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday.
Mr Nagle was honouring his 12 fellow St Alipius Christian Brothers Primary School pupils who have committed suicide – out of a class of 33.
The shocking statistics were some of the evidence presented about abuse on the first day of the hearings that victims have described as a “carnage” that has fractured Ballarat.
Mr Nagle was repeatedly assaulted by disgraced priest Stephen Farrell when he was a grade five pupil.
“I would know when an attack was coming because he would always remove his glasses first,” Mr Nagle said.
“It was a scary time. I couldn’t work out what I was doing that made the abuse happen because the physical pain made it feel like I was being punished.”
He said it was only when his lifestyle became very self-destructive that he reported the abuse to police, with Farrell sentenced to two years’ jail in January 1997 on nine charges.
“The whole thing was treated like a traffic sentence. Suspended sentences given to child sex offenders should all be overturned, and they should serve the time they were sentenced to.”
Paul Auchettl said he was abused by convicted paedophile Robert Best, who would hit boys until they cried and then comfort them before assaulting them.
“I felt guilty and ashamed that I was part of what turned into a monstrous habit for these men,” Mr Auchettl said.
He said he was also very concerned for victims who had yet to disclose abuse.
“It breaks my heart there are people left out there, angry, frustrated and lost.
“I don’t mean getting them back to the church but just getting them back to a community where they can come and talk.
“It’s an unseen carnage.”
Four survivors gave evidence using pseudonyms, with BAC testifying he was also a victim of Farrell.
He also said four men in his St Alipius class had since committed suicide.
BAS, testifying via video link, said he was abused at St Patrick’s Christian Brothers Primary School and was twice hospitalised after beatings before they became sexual attacks.
“He would make me choose either the strap or sexual education,” BAS said.
He said he had thought about going back to church but was now scared of anyone in a black coat or the smell of chalk.
“One day I went back to an open day for old students at St Patrick’s Primary School. I wanted to see if the kids were being mistreated.
“I think the kids are a lot better off these days.
“It was tough walking into the music room.
“When I went in there I had two weapons with me, my left and right fist.”
BAP was made to sit on the knee of priest Gerald Fitzgerald – who died before he could be charged – before being molested and was also abused by Best.
“I was never able to be a normal child at school as I was always in fear of something happening to me.
“Brother Fitzgerald didn’t just take my soul, he crushed it. What he did to me was he put fear and horror into me.”
“Brother Fitzgerald and Brother Best have put me in a nightmare world of distrust.
“I look at my life and wonder what I could have become and what contribution I could have given to this society.
“As it stands now, I feel like I have lead a wasted life. It is sad that I am a survivor but I do not feel that way; I am a victim.”
He said the abuse had also fractured Ballarat.
“There is no real way to measure the damage that has been done.”
BAA was abused by a nun – who told him the abuse was “God’s secret” – Best and convicted priest Edward Dowlan, who has changed his name to Ted Bales.
He even started wearing his younger brother’s pants so they were too tight for Best to be able to molest him.
He said he felt isolated and alone until he joined the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault’s survivors group.
“I don’t feel lonely now. There are others with the same problem.”
He also said he wanted a formal apology from the Catholic Church.
“I would like to have a formal apology, an acknowledgement from the Catholic Church linked with the actual taking of responsibility for looking after the problems they have caused.”