Updated: 17:37, Wednesday October 9, 2013
One of the victims of former priest David Edwin Rapson once tried to flee his Victorian school fearing further abuse, and says he hasn’t stopped running in the two decades since.
Rapson, 60, was found guilty of five charges of rape and eight counts of indecent assault against eight boys at Salesian College’s Lysterfield and Rupertswood campuses between the 1970s and 1990.
One of his victims, abused as a teenager at Rupertswood, said his life had been riddled by drug abuse, mental health issues and family breakdowns.
In a victim impact statement read to the Victorian County Court on Wednesday, the man said he has been haunted by the abuse every single day since it happened.
“It’s like I’m always running from him,” he said.
“My life would have been so, so different if not for the abuse.”
In a separate victim impact statement, the man’s mother said her son once fled Rupertswood, jumped a fence and swam across a fast-flowing creek all because Rapson walked into his dormitory.
She said her son was missing for eight hours, but the school only let her know after he was found.
Judge Liz Gaynor said some of Rapson’s crimes were sadistic and unbelievably cruel.
Prosecutor David Cordy said Rapson’s offending involved a shocking breach of trust.
“(He had) a view that he was untouchable, that he could just do what he wanted and that’s what he did,” Mr Cordy said.
Mr Cordy called for a sentence of between 12 and 14 years, with a non-parole period of between nine and 10 years.
Defence barrister Shaun Ginsbourg said some of the offending had occurred when Rapson was in his early 20s, after joining the priesthood in his late teens.
Mr Ginsbourg said Rapson had taken a vow of chastity which was completely unrealistic, and had been conflicted by his homosexuality and religious views.
He said there were other incidents of abuse at Rupertswood before Rapson arrived.
But Judge Gaynor said that did not reduce Rapson’s culpability.
“It’s almost like he’s risen through the ranks at Rupertswood and become a senior member of whatever circle of abusers was going on at that time,” she said.
Mr Ginsbourg said Rapson had been physically abused by his stepfather and sexually abused by two men as a teenager.
Rapson was jailed for two years in 1992 after being convicted of the sexual abuse of a boy at Rupertswood.
He was removed from the priesthood in 2004 after the Australian head of the Salesians travelled to the Vatican to personally ask Pope John Paul II that he be defrocked.
Judge Gaynor will sentence Rapson next Thursday.