Daily Mail Online
A nun laughed after a five-year-old orphan was abused by a priest at a Victorian Catholic home, the sex abuse royal commission has heard.
Gordon Hill, 72, told the commission he was sexually and physically abused at St Joseph’s Home in Ballarat, in what he called horror rooms and dungeons.
Mr Hill – whose name at “St Joey’s” was 29 because that was his locker number – said he was five when he was first abused by a priest.
A nun told him: “Father wants to cleanse you, 29.”
He blacked out after being given a drink by the priest, and when he came to he “hurt like bloody hell” and was bleeding from his back down to his shins, he told the royal commission on Wednesday.
The priest pushed him out the door where the nun was waiting.
“She was laughing at me and told me to get back to work,” he said.
Mr Hill said he was later subjected to what he believed was electric shock therapy when the nuns wanted to find out if he had told anyone of his abuse, after he was found in a local hospital.
“It was like some sort of electric shock therapy,” he said after travelling 3000km from Western Australia to read his statement to the commission hearing in Ballarat.
“They wanted to know what I had told them at the hospital.”
Mr Hill said the nuns at the home would thrash him and he was abused by three priests, including by one in a confessional box while parishioners gave their confessions.
“If I made a noise as I was sitting beneath the priest’s bench in the confessional box he would whack me across the face to shut me up,” Mr Hill said.
“If any Catholics had known what was going on they would have been horrified.”
Victim after victim told the royal commission of horrific abuse in institutions and schools run by the Catholic Church in the Ballarat diocese, and of nothing being done to stop it.
Neil Wileman was abused by three Christian Brothers including convicted pedophile Brother Edward Vernon Dowlan, and said he didn’t feel an apology from a senior member of the Catholic order in 2002 was sincere.
“Those responsible for covering up the abuse are almost as much to blame for what has happened as those who committed the abuse,” the 55-year-old said.
“There was too much emphasis on protecting the reputation of institutions like the Catholic Church and not enough emphasis on protecting the children.”
Victim BAV told the commission there is not enough support and understanding for victims, with men abused as children at Catholic institutions still committing suicide.
“I believe the church’s handling of the abuse has in some ways been worse than the initial sexual abuse that occurred,” he said.
“The abuse might be historical but suicides by victims of sexual assault are still going and is still happening.”
He was abused by convicted pedophiles Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale and Brother Robert Charles Best.
Two brothers and a cousin committed suicide after they were also abused, he said.
The commission has heard of a high suicide rate in Ballarat among abuse victims.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.