A victim of child sexual abuse has blamed the now-Brisbane Anglican archbishop for putting him in bed with the perpetrating priest.
Giving evidence to a royal commission in Hobart on Wednesday, the 52-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons recounted how he was raped in January 1981, then aged 17, at Triabunna on Tasmania’s east coast.
Former priest Garth Hawkins has since been convicted of the abuse but the victim insists it was incumbent Archbishop Phillip Aspinall who set up the opportunity.
‘I wouldn’t have been there without Archbishop Aspinall,’ the victim said.
‘He put me in that bed.’
A group of youths linked to the Church of England Boys’ Society had gathered at Triabunna where Hawkins was then priest.
Phillip Aspinall, aged in his early 20s, was among the gathering, along with the victim, who had complained previously to his peer about Hawkins making sexual advances.
When Hawkins invited someone to share his bed, the victim said he was volunteered by Mr Aspinall and went along because he didn’t want to make a scene in front of his mates.
He was subsequently orally and anally raped.
Lawyer Peter Davis, representing Archbishop Aspinall, said that the horrific abuse must have been at the forefront of the victim’s mind, suggesting he couldn’t have clearly remembered who nominated him to go into Hawkins’ bedroom.
‘I suggest to you it is so, that it was not Aspinall who volunteered you to sleep in Hawkins’ bed on that day,’ Mr Davis said.
But the victim was resolute.
‘The memories are seared into my brain,’ he replied.
‘He’s the one who said I wanted to go into (Hawkins’) bed and that’s why I was abused, because of Archbishop Aspinall.’
The victim was one of four men who gave evidence on the first day of public hearings, outlining their suffering at the hands of clergy and lay men linked to the society, across Tasmania and in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.
Hawkins, who has since changed his name to Robin Goodfellow, is the focus of the inquiry, along with Louis Daniels, Robert Brandenburg, Simon Jacobs and John Elliot.
Daniels and Hawkins are scheduled to give evidence on Thursday.
Brandenburg committed suicide in June 1999 just before he was due to face court on 24 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and 341 charges of indecent assault.
He is estimated to have had up to 80 victims.
The hearing is scheduled for eight days and will hear from 28 witnesses including former Australian governor-general Peter Hollingworth.
The former Brisbane archbishop is expected to apologise to victims, citing a ‘serious error of judgment’ when investigating allegations of sexual abuse against clergy for whom he was responsible.
Day one also heard an apology offered by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies.
In a statement read to the commission, Archbishop Davies said he was sorry that the terrible abuses of trust had occurred.
‘He acknowledges the devastating, deep and lasting effects of abuse on these survivors, and on their families and friends,’ the statement read.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.