child abuse victim speaks out ahead of national apology

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Stephen McClung’s parents were journalists and believers in God and church, who sent their 12-year-old son to St Pius X High School at Adamstown in 1961 to get a good Catholic education from the live-in teacher/priests.

Mr McClung, nearly 70, was educated, but he was also sexually abused from 1963 by priest Kenneth Hodgson, whose bedroom smell of “Old Spice” aftershave can hit Mr McClung even now and take him back more than five decades. Fellow priests included Father Tom Brennan, who went on to become the principal who presided over the school’s darkest period in the 1970s and 1980s, before being acknowledged by the Catholic Church in September as a child sexual abuser.

Stephen McClung was a victim of sexual abuser Kenneth (Ken) Hodgson.

Stephen McClung was a victim of sexual abuser Kenneth (Ken) Hodgson.Credit: Max Mason-Hubers

Mr McClung will be one of 800 people sitting in the Great Hall of federal Parliament on Monday as Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers a national apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

It was his mother’s death in January, 2008, and Pope Benedict’s limited apology to abuse survivors during an Australian World Youth Day visit a few months later, that led him to face his past and talk to police.

Hodgson, who was living in Victoria and died in June, was charged with sexually abusing Mr McClung at St Pius, but the charges were withdrawn in 2010 after a magistrate accepted the priest was too old and frail to travel to NSW for a trial.

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