When I was 22, and still a virgin, I had sex with the man who was my trusted local Catholic priest. I was young, disabled, and extremely vulnerable.
For 14 years, Father Tom Knowles continued having sex with me - a relationship that a pyschiatrist has described as the equivalent of “clergy perpetrated sexual abuse”.
I felt trapped. I couldn’t say anything to anybody because he was a priest. I was denied the opportunity to develop normally as a young adult. I could never test out other relationships or have a family. It was a personal and pastoral betrayal.
You may have already heard my story - investigative reporters Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker wrote about it here.
The Catholic Church admits that Father Knowles’ conduct was “inappropriate”. The Church stood down Father Knowles and paid me $100,000 compensation to acknowledge my “emotional and pyschological pain and suffering”.
But now, Father Knowles is back on full duties - this time at St Francis’ Church in the Melbourne CBD, one of the busiest churches in the country.
I’m horrified that the Catholic Church has allowed Father Knowles to return to full duties. PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION TO TELL THE CHURCH TO PERMANENTLY STAND DOWN FATHER KNOWLES.
I’m not doing this just for myself. It’s estimated there are thousands of other adult Australians who were abused or were in inappropriate relationships with their priests.
I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.
It’s time to send a message to the Catholic Church in Australia that this kind of behaviour simply won’t be tolerated.