Inquiry gives victim a distant hope of justice
Marist College. Photo: Gary Schafer
Even 20 years after he blew the whistle, this man is astounded at the ability of church authorities to protect the man who abused him and his Canberra schoolmates.
And even after three decades since the sex attack he suffered as a 13-year-old, the former Marist College student does not want his identity publicly revealed.
Now in his mid-forties and with two children of his own, ''David'' believes it will take all the power and all the reach of a royal commission to break the strength of institutions that have harboured paedophiles.
After his struggle with an institutional cover-up that, eventually, led to the conviction and jailing in 2008 of his attacker, David reacted to Tuesday's announcement of a national royal commission into institutionalised sex abuse with bemusement.
''It's astounding how long it's taken,'' David said. ''If it was any other organisation in the world, there would have been a royal commission so quick. This has woken me up to how powerful the Catholic Church really is, that they could hold off, that they could hold the government off for so long.''
David was a year 7 student at the south Canberra college in the early 1980s when he was attacked by William John Chute, also known as Brother Kostka, after six months of ''very skilful'' grooming.
For several years the schoolboy kept the one-off assault a secret until one day towards the end of his years at Marist College, he approached another teacher.
''I first of all approached the school when I was in year 12, and my form master said don't do nothing about it and I was so dumbstruck, I just wandered away in a daze,'' David said. ''Then, a number of years later, I heard that he [Brother Kostka] was still up to his same antics so I went to the school, told my story and said that if they didn't do anything I would go to the cops.
''The head of Marist gave me an assurance that he [Brother Kostka] would be out of the school and he wouldn't be back.''
Even then, David believes, he was betrayed and Kostka was allowed to remain quietly at Marist despite assurances he would be removed. He was transferred only after another boy victim came forward, with his parents and their lawyer in tow.
''It looks like it was his parents who managed to get Kostka removed,'' David says. ''The head of Marist Brothers spat the dummy because he realised there was a lawyer involved and he had no choice.''
But there was no disgrace for the serial predator, who was not jailed for his crimes until 2008. Instead he received warm plaudits from the school community.
''He was given a standing ovation - he was a senior Marist with a lot of power, it seems,'' David said.
''There were quite a lot of people who knew what was going on and either didn't do anything about it or didn't know what to do about it.''
David has not yet decided whether to participate in the royal commission but believes he has a story to tell about how tough it was for a victim to be heard.
''It'd be nice for me to say to them [the commission] how it went right to the top of the Marist order,'' he says. ''I've heard senior people in the church deny that there was any cover-ups but I know they did everything they could not to lose Kostka and they didn't do anything to help his victims.''