Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]
September 12, 2022
By Lucy MacDonald
Harvey* says when he told the head of Tasmania’s Anglican Church in the 1980s that he had been sexually abused by a priest, he felt greatly relieved. Then he watched that same priest go from promotion to promotion.
- Harvey is suing the Anglican Church in Tasmania over a deal it made with him in the 90s to take no further action about child abuse he suffered
- He says his dream to become a geologist was ruined due to his trauma affecting his grades and thereby affecting his future earnings
- The court heard he felt his complaints had been taken seriously by the church until he saw his abuser promoted
Now, he has taken the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania to trial in the Supreme Court in Hobart, arguing the $34,000 settlement he was given in the 90s was “unjust” and the alleged abuse changed his future and ruined his potential earnings.
The first time Harvey claims he was sexually abused was at a church camp in the 1980s.
Father Louis Daniels — now known to be a convicted paedophile — was the camp director.
Harvey claims Daniels sat down next to him on the bed at the camp and started to rub his back, eventually putting his hands down his pants and rubbing his genitals.
“I had a horrible feeling that something was really wrong,” Harvey told the court.
“That it shouldn’t have happened.”
Harvey told the court the next time he was allegedly assaulted was also at camp.
He said when he arrived the facility was empty, so he went to the dorms where the leaders stayed. The court heard Harvey allegedly found Daniels there alone, in a short blue bathrobe.
“I went to shake his hand. He then got me into a hug which I couldn’t break free from,” he told the court.
“I really froze when he kissed me, and he put his tongue into my mouth.”
He told the court he could still remember Daniels’s “really bristly moustache”.
“It was horrible, and it didn’t stop … it went on for a long time. It had to be minutes, but it felt longer,” he told the court.
Harvey said Daniels had a size and weight advantage over him, but he was also so aware that he was “the reverend Lou Daniels”.
“He’s the man who represents god,” he told the court.
“It was confusing. It was really scary.”
Harvey claims this was not the last time he was abused by Daniels.
Eventually, he and another friend told the then-head of the Anglican Church in Tasmania, Bishop Phillip Newell, that Harvey and two other boys had been abused by Daniels.
The court heard that Bishop Newell asked if Harvey would be prepared to speak to church leaders, but there was no mention of involving police, and while Harvey wanted Daniels gone, he also wanted to keep it confidential.
“I felt responsible for what happened,” Harvey told the court.
“I should have broken away earlier from these holds. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done more to avoid these situations.
“I felt at the time that I had acquiesced to being sexually abused. That I hadn’t made it clear to Daniels that I didn’t want this to happen. I felt responsible.”
After speaking to Bishop Newell, he told the court he felt “relieved” he had been listened to and “taken seriously”.
But instead of being punished, Daniels was moved on in what Harvey described as a promotion.
“I knew something had gone really wrong,” he told the court.
In 1989, Daniels was promoted to the role of the Archdeacon of Burnie, described by Harvey’s lawyer Leslie Whalan SC as “one of the highest-ranking positions in the Anglican Diocese in Tasmania”.
Bishop Newell later nominated Father Daniels to take on a senior position in the General Synod Standing Committee.
Then, in 1993, the Archbishop in Victoria invited him to become the chair of the General Synod Youth Commission.
Harvey on the other hand said the abuse had turned him into a different person.
“I became someone who was very withdrawn. At lunchtimes I’d seek out part of the school where very few people were,” he told the court.
“I felt depressed. I felt like I couldn’t do anything.
“I felt like my schoolwork was a failure. I’d wake up in the morning thinking that and leave school thinking that.”
Harvey told the court from a very young age he had dreamed of becoming a geologist, but from year 7 onwards, after the second lot of abuse had occurred, his grades went downhill.
The court heard he was not able to achieve the results he needed to study geology and while he went on to complete two PhDs — at least one of which he claims was of poor quality — and has a successful career in academia, he has not earnt what he would have if he had become a geologist.
Ms Whalan said Harvey has struggled at work, while socially he has “fought and argued with people and lost friends”.
“He had to go on medication to treat anxiety and depression … he has not been able to come off that medication and he’s on even more now,” she told the court.
The Diocese admits the abuse occurred — despite the fact it has not been proved in a criminal court — but argues the Deed of Release Harvey signed in the 90s, granting him $34,000, bars any him from any further prosecution.
It also questions his claim that “but for his injuries, he would’ve studied mining engineering”.
Ken Read SC said even if that was established, there was a real question as to whether Harvey would have made more money, because he’s currently making around $200,000 a year.
But Mr Read said the church accepts that more could and should have been done to protect Harvey from sexual abuse.
* Name has been changed.
Sexual assault support services:
- Sexual Assault Support Service (Tasmania): 1800 697 877
- 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
- Sexual Assault Counselling Australia: 1800 211 028
- Bravehearts (support for child sexual abuse survivors): 1800 272 831
- Laurel House Northern Tasmania: (03) 6334 2740
- Laurel House North West Tasmania: (03) 6431 9711
- Blue Knot Foundation: 1300 657 380
- Child Abuse Prevention Services: 1800 688 009;
- Strong Families, Safe Kids: 1800 000 123
- Lifeline (24-hour crisis line): 131 114
- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
- Tasmania’s Victims of Crime Service: 1300 300 238
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
- Relationships Australia Tasmania:1300 364 277