HUNTER activist and abuse victim Peter Gogarty said he hopes his new book will provide understanding and hope for victims of child sexual abuse.
Mr Gogarty - a victim of Hunter paedophile priest Jim Fletcher - launched his book ‘‘Judas Church - Memoir of a Shy Young Fellow’’ at Maitland Gaol on Thursday night.
‘‘I was nine years old when I met newly ordained Catholic Priest Father James Patrick Fletcher,’’ Gogarty says.
‘‘Before I turned 18 I told him I would kill him if he ever touched me again.
‘‘Twenty-five years later, driving home from work, I heard that he had been arrested on multiple child abuse charges.
‘‘For the next 10 years, I devoted much of my time and most of my emotional energy to helping bring Fletcher to justice, helping other survivors of childhood sexual assault and working on a campaign to bring people in high places to account for their protection of paedophiles.’’
He said the title of the book stemmed from his first interaction with Priest Fletcher.
‘‘It was about 1969 and I remember walking out of St Joseph’s Church at East Maitland with my grandparents and they introduced me to the new priest,’’ Gogarty recalled.
‘‘I immediately tucked myself into my grandmother’s floral frock and he ran his hand through my hair with that very distinct laugh of his and said ‘‘he’s a shy young fellow, isn’t he. ‘‘That moment and those words will stick with me forever.’’
Mr Gogarty said the book was less an autobiography and more a collection of stories, ideas and his reflections.
‘‘This is my journey and I’m trying to work out these three things; what is my history, where did I come from, what did it do to me, how has it affected me, what can I do about it now and how can I build myself a better future.
‘‘My further hope is that anyone who picks up the book will get a better understanding of how this issue can affect people, but also, particularly for people who have survived childhood sexual abuse, will get some sense that they do not need to suffer for the rest of their days.’’
Mr Gogarty thanked award winning Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy and ABC reporter Suzie Smith for their years of work investigating and reporting on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and mentioned the Royal Commission, Strike Force Lantle and Retired Catholic Bishop Michael Malone.