Two prestigious Queensland schools failed to protect students from sexual abuse, doing nothing about complaints from victims who were not believed, a royal commission has found.
The culture at Brisbane Grammar School for 24 years under former headmaster Dr Maxwell Howell meant boys who alleged abuse were not believed, the commission said on Wednesday.
After counsellor Kevin Lynch moved on to the Anglican St Paul’s School where he again sexually abused students during counselling sessions, two boys who went to headmaster Gilbert Case were labelled liars.
Mr Case’s inaction when told Lynch and teacher Gregory Robert Knight had sexually abused children meant he did not achieve his most fundamental obligation to keep students safe, the commission said.
It said Mr Case, who was headmaster at St Paul’s from 1979-2000, was put in charge of all Anglican schools in Brisbane despite former archbishop and governor-general Peter Hollingworth and diocese general manager Bernard Yorke, knowing about allegations he took no action when told of abuse by Lynch.
Brisbane Grammar missed opportunities to discover Lynch’s abuse because it failed to keep adequate records of students’ attendance at counselling sessions and their absence from classes, the commission said.
A number of complaints about Lynch were made to senior Brisbane Grammar staff, most significantly to its 1965-1989 headmaster Dr Howell, who died in 2011.
The commission said Dr Howell did not investigate a 1981 complaint or report it to police or the school’s board of trustees, failing in his obligation to protect students.
“We find that during Dr Howell’s period as headmaster there was a culture at Brisbane Grammar where boys who made allegations of sexual abuse were not believed and allegations were not acted upon.”
St Paul’s also took no action to deal with complaints about Lynch sexually abusing students, the commission’s report said.
The commission rejected Mr Case’s evidence that two students did not tell him they had been abused by Lynch, who committed suicide a day after being charged in 1997 with sex offences against another St Paul’s pupil.
“Mr Case told the students they were lying and threatened to punish them if they persisted with the allegations,” it said.
There were allegations during Knight’s three years teaching music at St Paul’s that he sexually abused a number of students.
The school’s only action was that Mr Case accepted Knight’s resignation in October 1984, giving him a favourable reference, the commission said.
Knight was accused of sexually abusing students at a South Australian school before joining St Paul’s and afterwards at a Northern Territory school, where he tried to resign but was immediately sacked and reported to police.
Dr Hollingworth’s successor as archbishop Phillip Aspinall reached a negotiated settlement for Mr Case to leave his position as executive director of the Anglican Schools Commission, a role that required him to ensure the schools had proper child protection policies.
Current Anglican Schools Commission executive director Sherril Molloy said measures were now in place to better protect children, including trained student protection officers in each school.
Brisbane Grammar repeated its unreserved apology and said it has learnt from its past failures.
NOTE: Brisbane Boys’ College & (Anthony) Kim Buchanan is by no means included in this trend. Other related parallels/similarities are also becoming revealed. Details of (Anthony) Kim Buchanan’s St Paul’s & Ipswich Grammar School adventures are also being collected.