Statement by Robert Lipari regarding sex abuse by a previously convicted molester at Christian Brothers school in Australia

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Child Abuse at St Patrick’s Sutherland 1976/1977/1978

Personal Details

Name                           [Robert Lipari]

Address                       [xxxxx]

D/O/B                         31/7/1964

Family                         Separated

                                    Daughter (13), Daughter (10) and Son (7)

Married for 18 years and Separation due in part to Disclosure June 2010

Education                    NSW HSC – Reasonable results

                                     

Employment Past        25 Years Comma Bank – Middle Management – Redundancy 2003

Employment Current  Small Business owner – Boarding Kennel

 

Home Life prior to and during Abuse / Rape

We moved to the Sutherland Shire and lived at Woronora as my Mother got married to an Italian gent and they set up a home together. There was initial signs of abuse from the first time I met the man whom was to become my Step Father.

This increased in the years following their marriage to the point where by age 12 (1976) I had had multiple broken bones including my nose, together with lacerations to my body and face/head. I had complained to him a number of times that he should stop hurting me but due to the effects of Alcohol and his reference to me as the “Bastardo” he had told me no one would believe me as I was only a “Bastard Child”.

On a number of occasions I tried to tell my mother about what was happening but when she asked my Stepfather he would tell her I was a bad boy and needed to be punished, further that the injuries were because I was clumsy. Once I tried to protect my Mother who was getting belted herself and got a friends slug gun. He overpowered me and broke the gun on my back and took me to the police station at Sutherland where an office told me that if I got a gun then I would end up in jail. Further that they could arrange a visit to jail unless I became a better boy.

I remember a number of particularly painful incidents as follows:

·         I came home from school in year 7 with blood on my white shirt and when asked by my Stepfather where the blood was from, I advised that I had been in the Tuck-shop line and an older and bigger boy had pushed in. When I complained he had hit me in the nose causing it to bleed. My Stepfathers response was to tell me I needed to stick up for myself followed by a full on punch to the nose to remind me of the pain.

·         I attended a School dance in year 8 and the Band went one song over finishing time. I met my Stepfather at the arranged place but I was about 3 minutes late. (No-one was permitted to leave until the Dance was finished) When I got in the car I could smell alcohol and he started to abuse me for being late and then started to hit me with a car battery cable (Multiple Copper Core) to the face and body. I got out of the car and fell to the ground. He continued to whip me with the cable in front of the other boys, their parents and a number of teachers. He kicked me a number of times until I was bloodied. No-one stepped in to stop him. When we eventually got home my mother asked about the injuries but when I was told to be silent by my Stepfather, he informed her that I was a Bad boy and had kept him waiting and disrespected him.

During these years I had attended a Doctor at Woronora called Dr Gunatelake to have my nose quartarised. He asked me about why my nose was so damaged and I told him about the abuse at home. He asked my mother and she informed him that I was just clumsy.

I put up with ongoing torment until I left home.

Whilst living at Woronora I had a number of “Safe Places” that I could go to if I needed a place to cry. I could often be found sitting on my Rock, sitting on the edge of my Cliff above our house or under the foot bridge to Prince Edward Park.

I had no friends at Woronora as when I would meet people my Stepfather would tell them that I was a very bad boy and they should not be my friend.

While trying to deal with the sexual abuse at School, the abuse at home was ongoing.

I first left home at age 14 and lived in the Royal National Park for a few weeks. I put up with the home situation until a few weeks before my 16th birthday when I again ran away.

I funder my own way through to HSC and stayed some of the time with friends and some of the time with trusted relations.  I began working in the Hotel / Nightclub industry.

I became sexually active at age 14 and have never been involved in Homosexual sex in any form. From a naive child, raped at 12 to sexually active at age 14.

School Life

Commenced St Patrick’s College (Christian Brothers) in Year 5 being 1974 and had my 10th birthday in this year. St Patrick’s was at the time an all-boys school with quite a few Brothers but mainly lay teachers.

During my first two years at St Pat’s I was regularly picked on by the other students as I believed I was the smallest of the kids (about 1 year younger). I was described as the Wog and a poofter which I thought was very unjustified. When I would get belted up by other students and complain to the teachers, both myself and the bully would get some punishment such as detention on standing on a seat in the full sun for a lunch period. Some of the punishments were quite cruel. These would generally be supplemented with some corporal punishment. Usually between 2 and 4 lashes of the strap.

I worked out very quickly not to complain. I just took the beatings as and when they occurred. I had been slammed into walls and had my tie used to strangle me while the other kids cheered. If someone needed to be seen as tough then it was me that was used as the punching bag. If I got hurt then I would get assistance from the office but would say I tripped over.

I would regularly go to school with bandages on my body from injuries at home. As I could not complain about the Bullying, and also after being told by my Stepfather that I would not be believed, I did not complain about the home situation.

I would normally be left out of activities in the classroom and playgrounds. Interestingly I was also usually left out of structured sporting events by teachers, usually finding myself left on the sidelines.

In early High School (Year 7?)  my Year Master (Br J C Roberts) was contacted by my Grandmother whom had become concerned about the home situation as contact had been severed at my Stepfathers initiative. Br Roberts enquired about the home situation, advised he was too busy to get heavily involved, and arranged for a counselor from Monte Saint Angelo College North Sydney. Sr Cleophas attend for the remainder of this year weekly and into the next year. Not only was she my counselor but she also became my Verse Speaking teacher. Over this counseling period, Sr Cleophas regularly told me that these events and actions at home would stop if I was a better boy and behaved well.

Abuse/Rape

Late in this High school year (To the best of my recollection 1976 age 12), our Science Teacher, Mr Thomas Keady (“Bopper”), enquired at the conclusion of a class why I was sitting alone and had cried for the whole of the period, being 35 minutes.

I explained to him what was happening at home and he seemed to be genuinely interested. He advised he was there for chats whenever I needed.

These discussions continued on a regular basis and were always conducted in his office which had an open door and in view of other students.

Later in this year, Keady advised that as things were obviously not getting any better at home, that he could offer me a break away from the situation and an adventure at his Caravan south of Wollongong where we could go fishing and prawning without parents. He advised he often took students that we having issues down there to recharge their batteries. He stated that he also goes to Nunes regularly (Near Lithgow) with boys from school and was also actively involved in Scouts.

Having been on various retreats and camping trips with the Brothers over the previous years, and also being quite naïve about the world, I could not see any problems or issue with his offer. He was an adult and teacher at my school after all. The school trusted him, why shouldn’t I.

Keady asked if I would like to go and asked if he could seek permission from my parents. He came to our house in Woronora and met with my mother. Whilst Mum was initially reluctant, my Stepfather said it might make me into a man. Keady advised that there was another Boy going as well being [xxxxx] , and as he (K) was a teacher at the school he was trusted and all would be fine. With his assurance my mother agreed to his request.

In the December / January School Holidays (I know it was this holidays as we caught Prawns by the Garbage Bin and this only occurs at this time of the year) Keady, myself and [xxxx]  left the Sutherland Shire heading to Keadys Van at Windang. We arrived early afternoon at what is now called Windang Tourist Park on the northern side of the entrance to Lake Illawarra. I enquired about the sleeping arrangements and we told that it would be alternate nights in the Combi and the Caravan for [xxxx] and I. Keady gave us a run down on what was to happen over the trip, being prawning on each night and going fishing at least twice. He advise that we would have a slap up dinner on one night as Mr Dowdell, another teacher at the school was coming to visit. I enquired why he was coming and was told by Keady that he often came to visit. Mr Dowdell had been my Year Master and math’s teacher and was obviously known by me.

That night we went prawning in his boat called “Pamela” and caught a lot, cooked the prawns on the stove, got washed up and went to bed. This first night I was to sleep in the Caravan.

After a few hours of sleep I was awoken by Keady having his arm across my chest, holding me down, with his hand down my pyjamma pants playing with my penis and testicles. When I objected I was told to lay there and shut up. I remember trying to push him off but did not have the physical strength to push him off. I tried to get a gasp of air in to scream but Keady put his hand over my mouth and told me he would kill me if I screamed. I had to just lay there crying while he continued to fondle my penis and testicles. He was using a great amount of force and was causing pain around the circumcision scar on my penis. I can remember that he smelt of salt and as he probably had some on his hands this was hurting me.

After about what seemed to be an hour of this treatment, I stated I needed a drink and Keady got off the bed. Then I rolled over on my belly, pulled up the blankets and told him quite forceful to “LEAVE ME ALONE”. When I look back now to have rolled over could have been very dangerous, but as a child, and a very naive child at that, I honestly believe that this was the only thing I could do. I did not know anyone at the Park other than Keady and Philip, I did not know the layout of the Park and I had no way of contacting home.

I did not return to sleep that night and was honestly scared for my life. I was relieved when the sun came up some hours later and I had the opportunity to escape.

I went and had a shower for over 2 hours as I felt dirty and needed a safe place to cry. I did not get an erection when I was masturbated by Mr Keady but in the shower I noticed that my penis was badly swollen like a tennis ball and bruised, some of the blood vessels were visible. Around where I was circumcised the skin had been torn apart and was weeping. It hurt a lot.

I felt embarrassed and very guilty that obviously something about me made him pick me.

I could not bring myself to confide in [xxxx], as he was a few years older and I did not know him as a friend.

After my shower I reminded Phillip that it was my turn to stay in the Combie but as he was older and bigger he told me he would never sleep in the Caravan with Keady.

I disappeared until lunchtime that day and just sat on the Beach by myself crying.

At lunch Keady advised we were going fishing in Pamela to catch dinner. I had no ability to say no without drawing attention from the other boy. As a southerly blew up whilst we were in the Back of the lake near the Power Station, Keady seemed obviously concerned about our safety. This is a shallow lake and as I now know renowned for its chop.

On the return leg, once entering the main channel, which was much calmer, Keady told me to come over and steer the boat. He made me stand in front of him and steer. Whilst holding onto the steering wheel he again put his right hand down my pants which would have been out of [xxxx]  view. When I tried to move my hands he told me to hold on to the wheel. He again started to fondle my still swollen penis and seemed happy that it was swollen. I could feel the salt from his hands creating pain on my torn skin. I wanted to cry and say stop, I felt embarrassed and to make a scene would have been to let Phillip know what was going on. I was honestly scared by being on a Boat on an area of water that I did not know. I did not know if I could count on Phillip as friend or foe. I did not know if he could be trusted.

As we neared the dock he removed his hand and I started to cry. I told [xxxx0  I had something in my eye.  When the boat was near the dock I jumped off into the water and ran as fast as I could to the Van to get my gear for another shower. Again my penis was sore and now bleeding around the circumcision scar.

When I returned to the Van I complained to Keady that it was my turn for the Combie and that I wanted to go home if this was not to happen. Keady advised we were again going prawning that night. I felt safe in this situation as he advised another adult from the neighboring caravan was coming also.

We caught about three Garbage bins of prawns that night and cooked them on our return.

I am pretty sure I slept in the Combie that night but remember the discussion at breakfast where Keady wanted to know where [xxxx]  was the night before. I was sent away and they had an argument.

On this day I went missing and spent my day walking and sitting on the Beach.

I returned to the van in the afternoon to find that Mr Dowdell had arrived and was having a beer with Keady. I spoke briefly with Mr Dowdell and Keady announced that we were having curried prawns for dinner. There was nothing inappropriate from Mr Dowdell and we just sat around and chatted. One of the discussion subjects was “Foxhunting” on the CB Radios. Keady showed us his HiGain V CB radio in the Van and spoke about talking to people overseas on Side band using the skip of waves between land and Ionosphere by using Lake Illawarra as the groundplane. He described foxhunting as a game of Hide and seek using CB’s to find the person hiding.

I am not sure where I slept that night but it was without incident.

The following day, when I went for a shower, I was still feeling bad and my Penis hurt a lot. There was blood all over my Penis from the ripped skin and now even a number of days since the first assault, my Penis was still swollen and bruised.

After lunch on this day I managed to fake an injury by punching myself in the nose to make it bleed. I told Keady I had tripped over and it would not stop bleeding. He speedily arranged for us to return home without further incident.

My mother was not overly concerned about my Blood nose on our return and I went to my “Safe Place” (A very large Rock on the side of the road some 500m from our home) and cried for a long time.

When school returned (Year 8), I again had Keady for Science and on numerous occasions was summoned to do work in the Science Prep room that was between the Science Labs. These occasions would only be when our timetable had my class doing Science in periods 2 or 4 and these were the classes immediately before Morning Tea and Lunch respectively. These occasions would be either to prep viles/test-tubes for the following class or sometimes to dissect rats in prep for classes. I particularly liked the working with the rats.

On at least six occasions I remember Keady coming up behind me whilst working on the Bench facing President Ave and putting his arms around me and putting his hands down my pants. On the first couple of occasions I just froze but on the latter few I worked out that to hurt him I needed to pin his arms between me and the corner of the Bench. If I could have broken his arms I would gladly have done this. After I would pin his arms, kick him backwards and then I would wriggle away and run through the Lab to the toilets where I would cry.

Strangely looking at this now, I remember that at least twice this was when I was dissecting Rats and as I had a scalpel in my hands I could have cut him or killed him quite easily.

On one of these occasions, the Lab Assistant (Mrs. Scrymenjour) came in as I was screaming and asked about the noise. I am not sure what she had heard or if she could see anything, but Keady yelled at her to leave.

On the last occasion I told Keady that I was going to “Dob”. Keady told me straight out that if I ever told anyone about this, he would make sure that the kids at the school would kill me as ”they don’t like poofters at this school or in the Sutherland Shire”. As I was being bullied on a daily basis by these boys, I considered his threat to be a very real possibility.

To the best of my knowledge, I recall seeing multiple boys being called into the Lab Preparatory room both prior to my rape and also after my rape. Prior to the rape I had no idea about what could happen in the Prep Room, but after the rape and after myself being called into the room, I was full aware of what could be happening in there. There were also other boys that I know went with Keady to his Caravan as they would talk about this during discussions in the playground but also when asked by teachers in the Classrooms. Often the teachers would ask about what students were doing over holidays and quite often someone would say that they were going to Keadys van.

Whilst I knew what danger these boys were in I did nothing to warn them. I have lived with this guilt throughout my life.

When this all became too much for me I tried to bring this to the attention of the Year Master, whom I remember as Br J C Roberts. I specifically remember telling him that I needed to report an assault by a Teacher. Br Roberts asked which Teacher and when I advised Mr Keady, his answer was “You have to be Joking” and was waved away.

As Br Roberts did not want to hear, I went to the Main Office and spoke to the Office Lady to arrange an appointment with the Principal (Elderly lady with glasses that always wore a mid length brown skirt, possibly Mrs. Hannan or Hanna). She asked about what and I advised to “Report an assault by a Teacher, Mr Keady”. She advised I would be called from class when he is ready.

The following day I was collected from class and waited for seemed an eternity in the main waiting room. When I entered the Principals office, I was told “I have investigated your claim and I do not believe you are telling the truth, I had to be exaggerating and things like this did not happen at this school, further that as I had been in trouble before for fighting that he did not believe me. Further it would be in my interest to never mention this again.”

I do not remember which principal was there but I think it was Br A E Whealan.

At a time thereafter Keady seemed to disappear. I am not exactly what time frame this was however. As the school did not believe me, there was no counseling specific to this area offered in any way.

I was told that I was not believed and have kept this secret for over 35 years.

During this period the physical abuse was continuing and I never told my parents about the rape. A number of teachers noticed the physical injuries that were occurring at home, including Mr Bert Franzen (Red Beard), but as I remembered that this was how the issue with Keady started, I was reluctant to tell anyone anything. Mr Franzen advised me that he had put in a report but I never heard anything more about it.

I continued at school through to HSC and the physical bullying from other students continued on a regular basis but no further sexual assaults.

Trigger

In June 2010,  my ex-wife indicated that in her opinion that there may be something from my past that is affecting the way that I deal with her and the Children.

She stated that I do not trust her or the kids, that I look for negatives, freeze when she or the children show any affection and generally over protect them to the point where I had taken their identity.

I had disclosed to her about the abuse in my childhood household but it was not until I spoke to Jackie from Catholic Care that I was comfortable to disclose that which happened at the hands of Mr Keady.

Since this time I have told my Wife and my Mother.

_________________________________

Further information:

(1) 22 May 2013:  “Prosecution not in ‘public interest’” with VIDEO

(2) A Mother’s Apology

(3)   10 May 2013: Brother avoids charges

6 Responses to Statement by Robert Lipari regarding sex abuse by a previously convicted molester at Christian Brothers school in Australia

  1. JG says:

    This type of treatment of another human being is part of our “civilized” history!…
    of the Catholic legacy! …Shame! Shame!Shame!

    Dear Robert
    Reading this description of your “torture” and “agony” is going to be my “church service” on this Sunday. I hope you are now finding the comfort of generosity and true affection in your life. I have also read your Mother’s heartfelt statement. I wish you all the strength to come together and to place the blame of this horror where it belongs. That blame is not in your house.
    Close by, from a world away. You are in my thoughts and Prayers.

    jg

  2. JG says:

    Rob,
    Get angry!
    You want Justice???….you will have to stand up and fight for it! Otherwise it is “Just” “ice”…a cold feeling that makes you numb and lethargic…and later on, if you ignore it, it makes you feel dead!…
    Get mad…do care to the extreme! If not for yourself, for the next child…
    Don’t just be “after” Justice….
    Inspire it!!!

    jg

  3. E N says:

    Dear Robert,

    I was in Keady’s Grade 6 class in 1963 in a State School when I was 12, in Portland, Victoria. He molested 2 boys on a so called ‘camping’ trip in the September school holidays that year. When they came back and told their parents, he was arrested, tried and went to gaol. We had a replacement teacher until the Christmas holidays. He was named in The Truth, a weekly Victorian newspaper . He disappeared after that and we always wondered what had become of him. It wasn’t until recently, that I found a reference to him working in a Catholic School in NSW that I was able to trace his whereabouts. If you or anybody reading this, wants to know more about this part of his life, please send an email to proudpaladin@lycos.com, as his behaviour affected our family as well.

  4. michael brennan says:

    Robert, My name is Michael Brennan, im 53 years old now, but I also lived in the sutherland shire at Oyster Bay.I attended St Patricks College & I was mollested by (Thundergut/Bopper/Keady) many times at various locations. Windang Caravan Park, before he had a caravan. Reading your story brought back alot of unpleasent memories it was like I was reading about myself. I had gone to Windang with at the time in 1974-1976, with a boy being my friend at the time, Phillip Pendlebury.When you mentioned a Phillip, I was wondering iff it was the same boy. My deepest sympathy for you Rob, My life has also been affected by Keady, ive never been married due to having serious confidence issues as a result of my assualt. I ended up on drugs etc, that I managed to finally dismiss from my life, but as you would be all to familiar with is the wishing it didnt happen to me. I was like you, extremely naive, & yes Keady also came to my home at Oyster Bay & obtained permission from my parents to go away with him. My mother(being very religious) trusted everything about the school & teachers there.He used to get me over to his house in Cronulla on a friday night(on a somewhat regular basis) in the assumption of going out fishing very early on saturday morning in “Pamela”, he would smooth me with beer & cigarettes. When your 12,13, its a big excitement to be able to smoke etc without your parents knowing. He certainly was on the ball with getting boys where he wanted them.I would very much like to contact you, I am still single but live with my friend Sharon i Narellan. I would be happy to share my experiences of that time of my life. It could be good for both of us. Michael.

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