A man who told an inquiry how he was sexually abused by three Marist brothers over years at a Newcastle school says his principal put his hands up and said “there’s nothing I can do” when he reported being touched.
The man, known as CNQ, told the inquiry he was first abused by Brother Dominic, whose real name is Darcy O’Sullivan, within a month of starting at Marist Brothers High School at Hamilton in 1977.
He told the royal commission another brother put his hands in his pyjamas the following year, before Brother Patrick began committing sickening abuse in a classroom and chapel in 1980.
The royal commission heard CNQ punched Brother Patrick in the head on one occasion after being touched in class and later had a meeting with his mother and the school principal, Brother John.
“I told Brother John about Brother Patrick … putting his hand on my crotch and leg,” he told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Monday.
“Brother John put both hands up in a defensive manner and he replied that ‘there is nothing I can do about that’.”
CNQ said Brother Dominic would find him in the playground or having lunch and take him to his office.
He gave harrowing evidence that he screamed as he was raped on the last instance of abuse by the brother.
He told the royal commission he eventually decided to leave the school and told Father Tom Brennan, who was to be his new principal at St Pius X High School, about the punching incident.
“Father Brennan responded in the same way as Brother John, putting both hands up in a defensive manner and saying that there was nothing he could do about it,” he said.
The royal commission is examining how Maitland-Newcastle Catholic authorities dealt with allegations levelled at Brother Patrick, Brother Dominic and Brother Romuald, whose real name is Francis Cable.
It has heard from numerous victims, who said students were subjected to an extreme disciplinary regime, which included canings and beatings for seemingly small transgressions.
One survivor, CNR, said boys would talk among themselves about Brother Dominic’s abuse but wouldn’t leave their seats while they were being groped.
“I guess it wasn’t really an option, as we would have been flogged,” he said.
The royal commission also heard from Father William Burston, who read last rites following the suicide of 13-year-old Marist Brothers student Andrew Nash.
He admitted he probably described the 1974 death to others as a “prank gone wrong” because he thought the hanging did not seem like a suicide.
The royal commission has heard “a lot” of people think the boy may have been abused by Brother Romuald.
“If that is true, I would be disgusted,” one of Romuald’s victims, CNV, whose older brother was also abused at the school, said.
“I know that my brother and my father told the Marist Brothers about Brother Romuald in 1972 and 1973.”
The hearing in Newcastle is expected to continue on Tuesday.
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.