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If Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Brisbane Archdiocese drove me to the point of suicide in 2020 – did he and others conspire to commit a crime?

As a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a Catholic orphanage, I am the only person who can give myself agency. I am the only person who can stand up for myself and say that I have had enough of the treatment I have received from the Catholic Church. I make no allegation here, I make a direct accusation against Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and against the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland.

In August 2020 I sought to end my own life.

In 1957 I was five years old. As my feet traversed the entrance to St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage near Brisbane I did not know that multiple rapes and years of mental cruelty lay in my future.

In 2017 I was sixty-four years old. As I lodged my Claim for redress against the Catholic Church I did not know that four years of re-traumatisation, re-abuse, and the very denial of my existence was ultimately going to send me to the acute mental health ward of Nambour General Hospital where I was placed on suicide watch.

The childhood rapes and cruelty I experienced are rightfully deemed to be a heinous series of crimes. Yet, the denial of agency and re-abuse I experienced from the Catholic Church when I lodged my Claim, events that combined together to lead me into the choice of wanting to end my own life, are not deemed to be crimes of equal magnitude. Well, I see no difference. Trauma is trauma. Abuse is abuse. Without the very good help of the professionals in the acute mental health ward I would not be here today writing this.

Imagine how appalling a feeling it was to find that in August 2020 I lost control of my own mind and came to awareness in the A & E ward of Nambour Hospital with a nurse checking my clothes and body for any implements I could use to kill myself.

I have a pretty obvious question to put to both the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and to the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy here in Queensland.

“When does omission of care by the Catholic Church cross the line between a casual indifference to the responsibility of duty of care, and morph into a deliberate criminal intent to deny care and cause harm?”

Committing myself has a bloody awful back-story. It is not a unique back-story. Too many of my Survivor Brothers and Sisters know the story all too well.

In early 2017, after almost a full lifetime of not having the courage to do it, I initiated legal proceedings against the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Well little did I know. I expected justice, acknowledgement, apology, recognition of lifelong harm done, and heartfelt involvement in truth telling. I did not expect to be purposefully psychologically demolished, I did not expect to be treated as though I were lower than scum, I did not expect absolute silence once I had spoken, I did not expect the extent to which the Catholic Church was prepared to go to to diminish, unacknowledge, and water down my claim against them to almost nothing, I did not expect to be totally cut out of any important mediation session between the Church and my legal representatives, I did not expect to be treated as though I do not exist.

You may laugh at my naivety here, but I truly did believe the PR material contained on the Catholic websites where they state how much they care for the welfare of Survivors who lodge genuine claims for acknowledgement and redress. Naive no more. Their only concern was to protect their reputation, demolish me psychologically to the point where I fell apart and could not competently pursue my claim. In their aims they were totally successful – I openly admit I was a broken re-traumatised and re-abused man who was prepared to, and subsequently did so, sign any sort of release document just to get away from them and their abusive behaviour.

The Catholic Church did not care for my welfare as a litigant Survivor. Their only concern was damage limitation, a strict adherence to their internal risk management processes, and a go to any length approach to protect their public reputation.

So, to reiterate, how appalling a measure and indictment of the destructive power on the human spirit of childhood sexual abuse is it when one finds, in the latter stages of your life, finding yourself on suicide watch in a secure facility with your capability to control your mind in any sort of positive way totally lost to yourself. How appalling is it that when you approach the Catholic Church for justice and fairness their response is to re-abuse, re-traumatise, and drive you to the wish for suicide.

The last four years, induced and reinforced by the terrible way I was treated by the Sisters of Mercy and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, has been an awful experience to go through.

So I make no allegation, I make a direct accusation. The Archbishop had nothing to do with my childhood rape experiences, but since he the head of the Archdiocese and can be seen as ultimately responsible for everything done in its name – I directly accuse him of gross failure in his duty of care towards me. I directly accuse him of responsibility for the four years of re-abuse and re-traumatisation that I have just experienced. I directly accuse him of placing me in an unsafe situation where I saw suicide as the only way out of the trauma. I directly hold the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland of holding equal culpability in this matter.

In my opinion they have committed a crime.

I am writing to the Queensland Police Service to see if they will accept and investigate my Formal Complaint against Archbishop Coleridge.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

 

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18 comments

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  1. Keith Davis

    This is a difficult thing to do. The Catholic Church is a very powerful Institution. If people like me do not stand up and call them out – then nothing will change.

  2. OnceWasALiberal

    No part of the church of Rome, anywhere in Australia, has ever made a concession of blame or an attempt to remediate the harm caused with the full knowledge of the bishops and other managers who should (and knew they should) have prevented or reported it.
    The problem has always lain not with the perpetrators, who may have had psychological or other problems, but with the evil bishops and others of similar status who condoned this behaviour by concealing it. The difficulty arises in almost all of the religions claiming to be “Christian”, and in all parts of the world – although Australia has a far worse record than some countries when it comes to prosecution of the management level supporters and facilitators. We do have a number of religious managers now claiming that they would rather be imprisoned than surrender their “right” to conceal criminal activity. One can only hope they are given the opportunity to test this.

  3. Vikingduk

    Yes, Keith, as many women are now demonstrating. Go hard or go home and hope the spirit survives the onslaught from the black hearted bastards who accept no blame. Good fortune to you Keith, stare the mongrels down, it is your life they have destroyed and now they must face their guilt. They had a duty of care to you and all the other victims, you have no apologies to make, you have the right to demand they listen and accept their guilt.

    Cheers, Keith

  4. Baby Jewels

    I know this is neither here nor there, but my heart breaks for you and for those who’ve endured similar. I have been cursed with a strong sense of justice and at the moment, I feel ferociously angry at the world. I know I’m not alone. I can only wish you the strength and the ability to push this thing through to it’s rightful conclusion. Know you have the backs of many of us hoping for the best for you. Here’s to justice! From there, you’ll get some peace and better health.

  5. Canguro

    Tragically, early childhood abuse, whether arising from institutional sources or within the domestic environment, invariably has long-term negative consequences for the victims, leading to outcomes such as loss of trust in others, social impairment, withdrawal and relational difficulties, drug & alcohol dependency & abuse, poor self-esteem, anger & depression and more. The costs to society are enormous but more significantly the personal costs to victims are all-consuming and in effect a life sentenced to reduced emotional and intellectual and physical enjoyment. One’s birthright, smashed and destroyed by the abusers.

    The consequences of ECA must never be overlooked or underplayed or belittled, nor must the culpability of the abusers be excused or rationalised away.

    It is way beyond time that all societies at large took on the challenge to retrofit the institutional and domestic environments in such a way to permit children to grow and develop free from the abusive influences of those who shoulder the burden of care and nurture but who also allow their bestial natures free reign to abuse. Humans are capable of best practice when given the right resources and conditions.

    Institutions such as the blue knot foundation [https://www.blueknot.org.au/ ] suggest something in the order of 70% of adult Australians suffered early childhood abuse. An appalling statistic!

    I hope you can find justice & resolution, Keith.

  6. John Hanna

    It needs to be remembered that the RC church is a relic of the Roman Empire and believes it will exist in perpetuity, indeed the church leaders actively promote that desire by crushing any dissent within or without. It is at it’s heart a political beast aspiring to world dominance, a characteristic of our most despised political ideologies. Australia should consider removing the tax free status of any religious organisation that does not acquiesce to provide meaningful help to those that were damaged by past illegal and immoral practises uncovered by the royal commission, by so threatening the church would have to comply or lose access to its many billions of assets garnered from the public purse. My personal belief is that all church assets should be nationalised, sold off and the proceeds used to compensate the damaged, government funding for private and religious schools should be abolished immediately and the procees redirected to the public secular school sysytem.

  7. DrakeN

    I hope that you have the necessary financial and moral support which you will need, Keith.
    That religious juggernaut, which has a long history of running over any adversary, is loaded with resources, materially and human.
    My thoughts are with you; I wish you all the very best at this late juncture in your life.

  8. totaram

    John Hanna:
    I applaud your views. However, have you noticed the increasing number of “Catholics” and “Christians” of various types who now inhabit all areas of politics? And they are working on increasing that number. Just compare, for instance, the percentage of “Catholic” politicians in the HOR with the percentage of these in the Australian population.
    I leave it to you to work out the outcomes of this increasing imbalance.

  9. Jack sprat

    The catholic church is less about religion and more about power ,control and big business .it employs 220,000 people in Australia making it up there with westfarmers in the top five employers in the country . If anything threatens their power or business model they will fight tooth and nail to protect them .

  10. craig

    Keith hi, some years back Geoffrey Robertson the UK barrister (also hosted hypotheticals on Australian tv) attempted to get a Rico indictment against the pope in the USA and all the archbishops bishops priests and move to seize the property of the church, his application stated the church acted like an organised crime family, with money being passed up the chain moving of assets to protect themselves from survivors law judgements and relocating the lower food chain criminals from 1 jurisdiction to another. I’m 62 I went to Catholic schools until I was 13, when I simply refused to return, Let there be no doubt the church does 4/5 ths of bloody no good and destroys thousands of lives every year with its sanctimonious crap.
    Mother Theresa made vile comments to a patient in an aids ward in the late 80s that sums this whole crew up,
    Surely if there’s a hell these bastards will take seats at the main table

  11. Michael Taylor

    Keith, you’ve been knocked around more than anyone else I know. That you can keep on getting up makes you, in my eyes, brave and special.

  12. leefe

    OnceWasALiberal

    “The problem has always lain not with the perpetrators, who may have had psychological or other problems,…”

    No. Enough of that bullshit. Psychological problems do not make you sexually abuse children. People choose to rape and to sexually assault others, and many choose children because they are the most vulnerable of possible targets; they are the easiest to cow.

    There are two facets of the problem: the abusers themselves and those above them in the hierarchy who are more concerned about reputation, wealth and power than about the harm that has been done. They do not care about victims, only themselves and their church. And there is always an overlap in those two groups (George Pell, for instance).

    More power to you Keith. It’s a rocky road but all of us here will help if you stumble along the way. We are with you.

  13. Helen Edwards

    Crying inside as I write this Keith–I cannot begin to imagine how you have felt most of your life. I don`t have any words that would take away your hurting but I do know deep in my very being that you are the only one in this whole world that can make things alright.

    In the harsh light of reality, we are absolutely alone in this world and as such, we can expect NOTHING from anyone or any institution.

    If however you DO receive any kind of love, help or assistance, that is a plus but cannot be looked upon as an ongoing benefit.

    Ask yourself what do you really expect? I can assure you you will NEVER have it. You are the only one on this planet who can LOVE YOU and BELIEVE IN YOU. That doesn’t mean that others don’t love you also–as you can see by all these responses.
    You ARE LOVED and BELIEVED by so many of us—that`s all you can ask. Find peace in any way and let this go.

  14. DrakeN

    Jack spratt,

    all religon is about power and wealth – the catholic church just wants it all to itself.

  15. Keith Davis

    Hi Helen Edwards .. you write from the heart and that is a wonderful thing. I can assure you that finally I am finding peace in my own heart and in my own mind. I don’t remotely feel sorry for myself. I don’t doubt that the Catholic Church would love for me to move on and remain a quiet victim of their abuse. The terrible experience of August last year finally lifted the mantle of fear that I have carried throughout my life. There ‘is something to see here’. The recognition of one’s own agency has an incredible freedom attached to it, an incredible sense of internal peace and determination attached to it. Your words were heartfelt/beautiful. My resolve is strong.

  16. Mary Marshall

    I was meant to read this Keith It’s the first time i have read a ‘survivor’ or rc abuse recognize in our quest for justice & redress they are intentionally pushing us and pushing us over the edge… I gave evidence at nz royal commission into historical abuse last year via AVL.. It is the closest i come to wanting to top myself &/0r stick a needle in my arm again (have been clean decades am educated now etc) I am still recovering & will always be recovering… Like you i believe how we are treated is in itself another criminal act on us… Also like you i was naive so to speak & thought at the least there would be an ethical approach. Far from it – they simply retraumatized me deliberately & I absolutely believe they wt us all dead. My revenge is staying alive fighting on and on inspired by others like you to never go down the gurgler again from the stress of it all Its late hope this made sense. John Brown on fb posted this up – thats how i found it. Gotta read more Stay strong Beir bua fight on to victory although what may be only victory is staying alive… slan mary

  17. Wam

    Glad you corrected yourself, leefe, for institutionalized training of the acceptance of priest pedophilia is as old as religion in Australia.
    It is unthinkable that a priest can give absolution for the terrible experiences of children like Keith. The judgement must be left to their god.
    The perpetrator must be referred to the police.
    That wouldn’t stop the abuse but may release whistleblowers and protectors.

  18. Mary Marshall

    Keith addon comment – we all went through the gates of hell as children… neuroplasticity of the brain the headdoctors say…. our damage is profound Multi layered turning corners to turn more corners……… You have described it so well for those of us not as able to with words. Once i saw the designed vatican snake room (vatican means divining serpent) I realized we r not dealing with just gross perversion but absolute psychopathic headhoncho devils with no conscience… It is all effing mindcontrol on the masses which is why even now in 21st century many catholics just cannot believe its as bad as what it is. Irish r still shockers for denial on it all – it due to the brainwashing – centuries of it. I spent a great deal of time extricating our culture from catholic claws All the best in another 24 hrs To look ahead any further is not good for us is it!! That’s all……..
    https://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/11/17/the-dark-secrets-behind-the-popes-audience-hall-its-a-giant-reptilian/

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