"Shattered Life" Worth $30k: Sex Abuse Survivor Releases Book about Attacks Suffered in Care

By Joel Ineson
June 22, 2018

Child sex abuse survivor Darryl Smith is launching a book about his experiences in the care of the Order of St John of God in the 1970s.

Darryl Smith says the abuse started on his first night at Marylands a Christchurch school for children with learning difficulties in 1971.

Woken from his sleep, the 6-year-old was called to a Order of St John of God brother's office late in the evening and told one of the men responsible for his care wanted to speak about his grandmother. Instead, the man raped him.

The abuse continued over the course of a year and came from other members of the order and older students, Smith said. He eventually told his parents what happened.

Marylands and St John of God Hospital in 1970.

"I was told to stop lying and I was hit for it because, I was told, priests do not touch little boys."

To this day Smith does not remember the name of the man who first assaulted him. Eight years after, he was old enough to remember when brother John Joseph "Bede" Donnellan did the same thing to him at the Granada Hostel in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove.

Smith has received $30,000 in compensation but he wants better support for him and the 4500 others who complained about abuse.

Smith's family had moved to Australia in 1978 and he began getting in trouble with the law, eventually being placed in the care of the church once again.

Donnellan would die before he could be charged with the abuse which Smith said began on his second night at Grenada but the Catholic Church's Professional Standards Office eventually found that "on the balance of probabilities" Donnellan did sexually assault Smith.

Smith's childhood has inspired a self-published account, A Shattered Life. He officially launched the book at the Male Survivors of Sex Abuse Trust's (MSSAT) Christchurch office on Friday.

Smith says he was beaten and called a liar because "priests do not touch little boys".

The angry, confused teenage Smith would continue breaking the law through the 1980s and much of his adult life, eventually serving time in prison on charges of burglary, fraud and theft.

His shattered life, according to St John of God, was worth $30,000. In 2009, the group paid the sum to Smith as a settlement for the abuse he suffered in Christchurch and Queensland.

Smith was one of nearly 4500 people who reported being abused by Catholic institutions during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia, which ended in December.

In an email, a St John of God spokeswoman said the brothers had sought to deal with every claim of sexual abuse "personally, promptly, justly and fairly".

That included "cases which could in no way be substantiated".

The Australian figures are part of the reason MSSAT's Ken Clearwater finds the exclusion of religious, charitable or sporting institutions in New Zealand's own Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care baffling.

For years, the National Government denied that an independent inquiry into the abuse of children in state care in New Zealand between the 1950s and 1990s was necessary.

The new Government included an inquiry in its 100-day plan, which has now been formed, but drew criticism from advocates for its narrow scope.

"I'm struggling to come to terms with the fact the royal commission is not looking at faith-based institutions," Clearwater said.

"This is a major mistake and will cost us more in the long term. Churches in this country have looked after vulnerable children for many years and ... Governments over the years have given them this power."

In 2007, four out of five of St John of God's leadership team had at some stage been subject to allegations of sexual or physical abuse against children.

The St John of God spokeswoman did not respond to a question about whether that was still the case. The order still operates in Christchurch and across Australia.

Smith did not feel like the order had properly paid for what its members did to children, which was why he completed the book. He was born with a mild intellectual disability, "so writing this book has been hard work".

He did not want to let people forget about the trauma its members were responsible for and he wanted more money.

But most importantly, he wanted the order to pay for life-long health packages for all of its victims, many of whom had suffered severe psychological trauma or gone on to struggle with crime, mental illness or addiction.

"It's about other survivors getting help ... they need to get help and I'm there for them 100 per cent."

For Clearwater, ?the book was a way for others to find hope that they could turn their life around after surviving similar experiences.

In 2002, The Press reporters Yvonne Martin and Matt Conway wrote an article about a man, "Patrick", who was sexually abused while a pupil at St John of God.

Clearwater said Patrick became frightened and, the day before the article ran, wanted it to be pulled. Clearwater said it was the idea of stopping "other boys having to go through what he went through" that meant he eventually said "let's got with it".

"It was this article that allowed others who had suffered at St John of God to come forward, and that was when we met Darryl," he said.

"Like many of the others from St John of God, his life had been a mess and he had a desire to make changes, but he admitted he needed help to do this."?

The St John of God spokeswoman said Smith "has been dealt with personally and purposefully over many years by the brothers and the provincial of the time".

"We wish him well with his memoir."








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