PORTLAND Catholic school teacher Michael Crowe yesterday told a parliamentary inquiry his career had been destroyed for trying to report inappropriate priest behaviour.
“I’ve been persecuted, harassed, bullied,” Mr Crowe said during the inquiry into institutionalised child abuse sitting in Ballarat.
Mr Crowe said he caught a priest inappropriately touching a student in 2010 and tried to report it but was ignored.
“There is no support and protection for Catholic whistleblowers in the system. The organisation is corrupt from the top down.”
His wife Carol said their children had changed schools three times and they had to sell their house because it was too close to the original school.
“There is a sense of disgust at what’s happened to us,” Mrs Crowe said. Mr Crowe, who still lives in Portland, is no longer working as a teacher.
Anne Ryan’s 25-year career as a Catholic school teacher ended abruptly in 1996 when her job was threatened for trying to expose sexual abuse.
“I resigned that day,” Ms Ryan told the inquiry.
Ms Ryan said her entire career had been spent teaching in the Ballarat diocese until she began to have concerns about sexual abuse. She complained to the then Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns — who she said described paedophilia as an “illness” — and representative Catholic bodies, but was ignored.
“Due to the inaction within the church, I began to use my voice more publicly,” Ms Ryan said. “I contacted Broken Rites, I wrote letters to the editor, I even went on a Four Corners program to try to raise the issue.
“In 1996, both the principal and the parish priest of my school actively threatened my position if I continued my activities in the public domain.”
Ms Ryan said she attended the inquiry to speak for the boys she taught. “I am their voice. Hopefully we are moving towards peace, justice and some kind of recovery.”
Ms Ryan said Bishop Mulkearns was also not on the same page as people who needed help. “I think that they (the church) think they are beyond the law.”
Speaking at yesterday’s inquiry, Peter Blenkiron called for concrete outcomes to stop more suicides or early deaths caused by drug and alcohol abuse. For years Mr Blenkiron battled suicidal thoughts playing like a stereo in his head, telling him he was worthless. “But the more support you get, the more the volume goes down,” he said.
Seven survivors told their stories at the inquiry at Ballarat Lodge, many breaking down in tears or displaying photos of themselves at the age of the abuse.
Anne Murray said one of her brothers, Anthony, died from AIDS at 33. Anthony was repeatedly raped by Father Gerald Ridsdale in a tent on a school camp, which continued on their return to Ballarat.
THE BALLARAT COURIER