A 55-year-old Queensland man who was abused as a child by a Marist Brother has only now learned his abuser left a suicide note asking his forgiveness.
The man known as DG told a national inquiry into child sexual abuse that when he was 13 at a Marist school in the 1970s, Brother Raymond Foster molested him many times.
He reported the abuse to police in 1993 but for various reasons it was not until 1999 when Foster faced extradition from NSW to face charges in Queensland.
He committed suicide on the morning of his extradition.
A note he left said: “I bear no ill-will against the person who had me charged as he had every right to do so, and I ask his forgiveness if he would be so kind.”
DG told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses of Child Sexual Abuse on Monday that he felt disbelieved by the Marist Brothers when he wrote to them outlining the abuse and its impact on him.
His mistrust was compounded by a local newspaper report in which a brother said Raymond Foster had not committed suicide but had died of natural causes and was “a wonderful man”.
“Those things really stuck with me – they made me feel I was harassing a sick old man, rather than seeking justice for the actions of a devious, slothful and drunkenly indulgent child molester,” he said.
The abuse had a profound impact leaving him feeling alienated and isolated – even from his parents and siblings, DG said in evidence.
He told commission chair Justice Peter McClellan he was never told of the note left by Foster and has only learned of it through the inquiry.
The suicide note was in the possession of then head of the Marist Brothers, Michael Hill.
Brother Hill told the commission on Monday he did not pass on the note in 1999 because he did not know who the complainant was.
“I was concerned for the unknown person but did not see any way I could find out his identity”.
He also admitted he did not tell DG and his wife about it when he later met them in Queensland.
Brother Hill suggested mediation to DG, who told the commission he was initially mistrustful of the Towards Healing process because he did not trust the church.
When he did take part in mediation it became an insurance barter between lawyers.
An offer of $36,500 was made.
“I was told to sign a bit of paper and go home and not come back,” he said.
He received an apology from the religious order on July 3, 2002 signed by Brother John Thompson.
“The apology was pretty hollow … to me Thompson was apologising for something he knew very little about.”
The hearing continues.