James Miller grew up in Newcastle and attended St Pius X secondary College from 1978. A keen surfer and gifted academically, he soon drew the attentions of Principal Father Brennan and deputy Father Helferty. Aided by his deputy, Brennan wields his authority to find many occasions to see James alone and sexually abuse him, transforming James’s naturally sunny easy-going disposition into one wracked with self-loathing and shame.
Confused and bewildered by what is happening, James begins drinking and secretly self-harming. The influence of the Catholic Church and Father Brennan within the local community is such that James is unable to escape him, even after a decade in Sydney where his marriage crumbled. His wife and young daughter moved back to Newcastle and James followed. His final plan to help himself is to become so successful that he can move away from Newcastle and out of the clutches of the predatory men. He joins prestigious chambers in Sydney as a barrister. However, his internal life is a wreck. Terrified that someone will find out his secret shame, he develops a deep-seated paranoia and a serious substance abuse problem.
Out of the blue he is asked to make a statement in criminal proceedings against a serial paedophile priest who was protected by Father Brennan, at St Pius X. Horrified, James knows that if he appears at the trial, he would be forced to reveal what happened to him. To make matter worse, he is then contacted by Brennan himself, who demands James’s help in his own defence of related charges. Faced with this dilemma, James had a breakdown, eventually losing his job and becomes homeless, before finding the internal fortitude to resurrect himself and his life. In 2015 he began a lawsuit against the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese.
The Priestsis a powerful and gripping personal story by an educated, articulate man about the long term and far-reaching damage sexual abuse can inflict on a human soul. It is also a riveting expose of the context and conditions of the Church which allowed child sexual abuse to flourish worldwide and particularly in the Newcastle region, which has been described as an epicentre of the sexual abuse epidemic in Australia between the 1960s and 1980s.
James Miller is reviewed in The Australian - read the full article HERE
‘James Miller has written an incredibly lucid and powerful book… People need to hear from survivors like Mr Miller to understand how profoundly powerful institutions like the Catholic Church failed so many children for so long, and failed them again when they sought help as adults. - Joanne McCarthy, Senior journalist, Newcastle Newspapers, Fairfax News
'James Miller’s confronting and compelling memoir is honest, courageous and written with poignant clarity.’ - Dr Cathy Kezelman AM President, Blue Knot Foundation
‘Miller provides unique insight into the profound and unabating torment caused by child sex crimes. The author’s fearless honesty and unrelenting courage inspire the reader … a brilliant book. - Dr Judy Courtin, Lawyer and Accredited Mediator
‘This story has a very authentic voice – this is very personal but has many insights important for us all.’ - Professor Kay Wilhelm, AM, Director of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and Conjoint Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales