Call to bring Catholic Church to account

IN a car on the side of the road a man wept yesterday for the mates he has lost from St Pius X, Adamstown.

Phil Crosbie, 48, of Jewells, was also angry – at the church that protected a paedophile priest, and at governments that have a responsibility to bring the Catholic church to account.

‘‘I’d like to see every one of these bastards brought to account. Even if they’re dead, I’d like to see it acknowledged what they did, or who they protected,’’ Mr Crosbie said.

‘‘I’d like governments to act. They have a responsibility, but they don’t have the courage because it’s the Catholic church. They don’t have the ticker.’’

He spent 18 months at St Pius X between 1976 to 1977. The notorious paedophile priest made an attempt, but didn’t get anywhere, Mr Crosbie, a stevedore, said.

Belmont North man John Pirona’s disappearance and death last week after leaving a letter saying he was in ‘‘too much pain’’, brings to 11 the number of former St Pius X students from 1976 to 1979 who have died violent deaths, the majority suicide or drug-related.

The number is not the result of a comprehensive investigation of all students who attended the school during that time.

It does not take into account the many men who have attempted suicide, or had lifelong problems with drugs and alcohol, after years at a school described by a judge as a ‘‘brutal and frightening place, with an atmosphere of violence’’.

Court records show three students from the 1970s attempted suicide while still at the school.

The suicide of a former student and friend of Mr Crosbie’s in March 1999 brought him to tears yesterday.

The friend was a victim of the priest.

‘‘Shit this is hard,’’ he said.

‘‘You’re supposed to wake up with a smile as a kid but I can tell you now, you’d wake up and tremble through those years.

‘‘They knew about that priest, and they did nothing. It was a brutal place.

‘‘People have to think of it this way. Would the church protect ‘Chopper’ Read if he was among them? No, they wouldn’t.

‘‘But because it was one of their own little gang, they left kids to fend for themselves, they were brutal for no reason other than they got off on it, and they got away with it for years.’’

Help available for distressed

HELP is a phone call away for anyone affected or distressed by the reporting of alleged sexual abuse.

Hunter Institute of Mental Health Mindframe project manager Marc Bryant recommended anyone in immediate need of assistance should call a crisis counselling service, such as Lifeline.

‘‘For further information people should talk to their general practitioner, local health professional or someone they trust,’’ Mr Bryant said.

The Mindframe project is designed to provide access to accurate information about suicide and mental illness and the portrayal of these issues in the media.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Lifeline 13 11 14

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

SANE Australia helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263) or www.sane.org

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