The Sydney Morning Herald
Barney Zwartz Religion editor, The Age.
Molested as a 10-year-old at the Jesuit-run Burke Hall in Kew, Chris Whelan marched to the headmaster’s office to tell him what happened.
”His first reaction was immediate and physical, ” Mr Whelan recalled on Monday. ”He reaches into the drawer, pulls out his strap and tries to hit me across the face.”
Mr Whelan felt relieved when he left Burke Hall for Xavier College, but there he was again to be sexually abused by Victoria’s ”most famous Jesuit” who preyed on several vulnerable children in Mr Whelan’s class, he told the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled sex abuse.
One boy at Burke Hall was ”kicked up the arse” so hard he later had to have stitches in his sphincter, but first he had to endure a double period of torment from his attacker.
”When someone’s spirit is crushed, they die – no more breath. I am here today as someone who didn’t die, they didn’t crush my spirit but they tried as hard as possible,” Mr Whelan said.
Another victim, Wayne Davis, said the first thing that happened to him when he was sent to Morning Star Boys’ Home was that he was punched in the mouth by a Franciscan friar and handed a shovel to work in the garden.
When he finished the task and asked what he should do next, his only reply was another punch to the mouth.
Mr Davis said his experience of physical, mental and sexual abuse at the Mornington home run by the Franciscans amounted to torture, and had led to a government investigation in 1967, but nothing was done.
He said police were so shocked at the condition of five boys who escaped for less than a day – the blisters on their hands, the bruising over their kidneys, the way they were dressed in rags – that they advised the boys what questions to ask when they came to the Children’s Court. Their answers sparked a departmental inquiry.
Mr Davis said after Morning Star he became a violent alcoholic and gambling addict.
”I can’t keep friends, I can’t keep relationships, until the one I’m in now, I can’t keep jobs. I don’t go fishing, I don’t go to movies, I don’t go anywhere. I’m just stuck.”
He said he had suffered nightmares for 45 years, and had suppressed memories of some of the sexual abuse, but his biggest agony came from the denials of what happened by church and government.
Mr Davis said the Franciscans who ran the home would creep up behind the boys and punch them. When he was locked in at night, one friar would come in and beat him, then force Mr Davis to masturbate him.