Tom was born into a devoted Catholic family in 1950, starting high school at St Mary’s Cathedral School Sydney in 1964. At the time, the school was run by The Christian Brothers. A short time later, Tom became a member of the Guild of St Stephen at St Mary’s Cathedral School, a source of great of pride for his family. As a member of the Guild, Tom was responsible for preparing for Mass and performing the duties of an altar boy.
Brother Patrick Timothy Farrell oversaw the Guild of St Stephen. Tom’s membership with the Guild gave Farrell regular access to him. Brother Farrell targeted Tom after he joined the Guild and sexually and physically abused him relentlessly for a two-year period. Farrell used his position of authority to repeatedly violate Tom. Farrell’s atrocities condemned Tom to a life of chronic suffering.
Brother Farrell assigned Tom extra tasks after the weekly Mass. He used this time alone with Tom to commit the abuse. Farrell amended the Guild roster, replacing Tom’s name with other boys to increase his access to Tom. He even called for Tom from his classroom, convincing the teachers that he required Tom to complete further duties. The position Farrell held and the community’s dedication to the Catholic faith shielded him from the suspicions of teachers, parents and the congregation at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Kelsos negotiated a substantial settlement for Tom, as well as a formal apology from the Christian Brothers.
Tom knew that Farrell’s position made it inconceivable for others to believe he was a paedophile. Only Tom’s peers knew the truth of Farrell’s true nature and his abusive sexual perversion. Brother Farrell sexually abused Tom in the most serious and significant circumstances. He carried out his crime in the Church toilets and on school outings. While performing the abuse, Farrell would bang Tom’s head so violently against the wall of the Church toilets that Tom often lost consciousness. Tom still suffers from tinnitus and migraines as a result. Despite Tom’s desperate efforts, Farrell was always able to use his size and strength to overpower Tom.
Tom has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and social phobia. He has battled through life on a disability support pension since 1982.
Tom began truanting school in 1964 to try to escape the abuse. Unable to bare the abuse any longer, Tom left school at age 15. His family made arrangements for him to move to Brisbane to work in a family business. Tom never made it to Brisbane as he unraveled mentally. He spent the next 12 months homeless in Hyde Park fighting his demons with alcohol in a desperate attempt to block out his memories of the abuse. From the age of 15 until his 33rd birthday, Tom self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, with near fatal consequences.
This cost him his marriage and the chance to develop relationships with his four daughters and 11 grandchildren. Tom has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and social phobia. He has battled through life on a disability support pension since 1982. Tom continues to be haunted by nightmares, short-term memory loss and irritable bowel syndrome, all consequences of the abuse. He lives in a re-locatable home in a retirement village.
For years Tom suffered in silence, consumed with shame. He feared for his family should his secret be exposed. It was not after the death of his mother in 2003 that Tom told a close friend about Farrell’s abuse. A short time later Tom reported the abuse to the NSW Police. In 2009, Tom was awarded $45,000 by the NSW Victims’ Compensation Tribunal (now the Victims Support Scheme) for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Brother Farrell.
In 2013, Tom contacted the team at Kelsos for help. Kelsos approached Christian Brothers seeking an apology and compensation for the horrific abuse Tom had endured. Peter Kelso met with the head of the Christian Brothers Professional Standards Office and his legal representatives. Tom was awarded an adequate amount in compensation and a formal apology from the Christian Brothers.
Although his wounds are far from healed, Tom now feels the Christian Brothers have taken responsibility for the crimes committed against him. He is closer to freedom from the guilt and shame he has carried for almost half a century.