The Priests is the true story of one man's survival of abuse at the hands of a most dangerous type - priests without belief.
James Miller grew up in Newcastle. He attended Pius X secondary College in 1978. He was keen surfer and gifted academically, which drew the attentions of the Principal, Father Brennan, and his deputy, Father Helferty. Aided by his deputy, Brennan found many occasions in which he asked to see James alone, and then sexually abused him, transforming James's naturally sunny easy-going disposition into one wracked with self-loathing and shame.
Confused and bewildered by what was happening to him, James began drinking and secretly self-harming. Any thoughts about telling what had happened to him were abandoned after he left school and married Kate, discovering too late that she was Brennan's niece.
With the family connection now firmly established Brennan used subtle - and not so subtle - forms of mental and emotional intimidation to blackmail and threaten James into keeping his silence.
His only plan to escape was to become so successful that he would be out of the clutches of these predatory men. He became a barrister, moved to Sydney and joined a prestigious law firm. However his internal life was a wreck. He was terrified someone would find out what had happened to him, and his marriage crumbled. He also developed a serious substance abuse problem.
Out of the blue he was contacted by another former student of St Pius, asking him to appear as a witness in his lawsuit against Father Brennan for sexual abuse. James had now become such a successful barrister that his evidence would be highly regarded.
James was horrified. He knew that if he appeared at the court case, he would be forced to reveal what happened to him. Worse, he was then contacted by the Father Brennan himself, who in an act of Machiavellian manipulation asked for James' help to defend him.
James became very distressed and had a breakdown, eventually losing his job and becoming homeless, before finding the internal fortitude to resurrect himself and his life. The implied threats and the potential for blackmail from Father Brennan first kept James in Newcastle and then silenced him from speaking out. In 2015 he began a lawsuit against the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese.
In writing this memoir, he is speaking out on behalf of victims of institutional abuse everywhere, giving them a voice, and giving them hope that they can be heard and have their hurt acknowledged.
- Publication Date:
- 25 / 07 / 2016
- 152 x 215mm