Marylands School survivor's upsetting message as Catholic leader apologises for 'indefensible' child sex abuse

A leader of the Catholic Church's Order of St John of God has apologised for historic abuse suffered by students of Marylands School in Christchurch, calling it "deeply shameful" and "indefensible".  

Brother Timothy Graham gave evidence on Tuesday as part of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Catholic Church. 

Darryl Smith was sent to Marylands School in Christchurch when he was a seven-year-old boy. Now 58, he says the sexual abuse he suffered while there has impacted every facet of his life. 

"I haven't had a life - they stole my childhood. I ended up with alcohol and drug problems, I ended up getting involved with crime most of my life." 

As part of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Catholic Church, a six-and-a-half day hearing is focusing on Marylands School and the brothers of the Order of St John of God who ran it. 

On Tuesday, the current leader of the Order gave evidence and began with an apology. 

"I would like to take this opportunity again, on behalf of all of the brothers, to profoundly apologise to all who were hurt and harmed in any way at Marylands and Hebron," said Brother Timothy.

Brother Timothy, who spoke via video link from Australia, has been the Provincial of the Order's Oceania province since 2007. He was asked by counsel for the Royal Commission whether there was a culture of intentionally not recording victims' complaints.

"Do you think this is consistent with this theme I picked up in the earlier documents about not putting anything in writing that might harm the reputation of a brother?" asked Katherine Anderson, counsel for the Royal Commission.

"And each time you have asked me that question, my response has been: I have no knowledge or experience of a culture of that kind," Brother Timothy replied.

A 2008 letter sent by Brother Timothy regarding Brother Rodger Moloney, who was jailed for sexual abuse, was also shown. It said: "What is at stake now is the support and care required by Rodger from all in his life to bring him through this experience 'relatively unscathed'."

He was asked by Judge Coral Shaw what that meant. 

"I'm clearly compelled and wish to support people who are harmed. We are also required to support people who have done the harm," Brother Timothy said.

Darryl Smith says those associated with the Church owe survivors a life.

"So get with the picture St John of God, and do what's right. "

And he wants proper care for abuse survivors to be the priority.