convicted paedophile teacher has accused students of making up stories about him after he was convicted of a child sex offence.
The conduct of former music teacher Gregory Robert Knight, as well as that of former counsellor Kevin John Lynch, is under scrutiny at the child sexual abuse royal commission underway at the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Both men worked at Brisbane’s St Paul’s School during the 1980s and 1990s.
Knight later resigned from St Paul’s and moved to the Northern Territory to work at Darwin’s Dripstone High School, where serious allegations of child abuse were made against him in 1993.
The school and the NT Department of Education refused Knight’s offer to resign, with the school sacking him on the spot.
In 1994, Knight was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail with a three-year non-parole period for child sex offences in the Northern Territory.
In 2005, he was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing a former St Paul’s student, identified at the inquiry as BSG.
He appeared this afternoon at the commission via video link.
“Now in Darwin as I have stated I went off the rails, I behaved badly and I’m not dodging around that one bit,” Knight said.
“It was after that and at the time when compensation was being handed out to students who had been at St Paul’s well after I’d left there that we had BSG come along and start asking ‘Oh, can I put in a bit of a story’ and away it went.”
BSG’s lawyer, Roger Singh, challenged Knight’s statement.
Roger Singh, lawyer for former St Paul’s School student BSG
“You were charged, convicted and sentenced for horrific sexual violation against BSG,” he said.
“There was no successful appeal, and for you to proclaim your innocence is absurd and delusional.
“You are a disgrace. It cannot be denied that you are a paedophile.”
Counsel assisting the inquiry David Lloyd also reminded Knight of his paedophile conviction and suggested: “It’s just delusional isn’t it, your position?”
Knight replied: “No, it isn’t.”
Knight sacked by BBC before being being employed by St Paul’s
Former Brisbane Boys College (BBC) principal Graeme Thomson told the inquiry he sacked Knight after hearing reports of questionable conduct from students in 1980.
Mr Thomson employed Knight unaware of crimes he had committed in South Australia, but said when boys from BBC came to him about strange behaviour around boarders in the showers, he took action.
Graeme Thomson, former BBC principal
He said he subsequently told St Paul’s principal Gilbert Case about the behaviour, yet Knight was still employed by the school.
“He [Knight] made no effort to offer an explanation and did not refute the details,” Mr Thomson said.
“I was confounded by his inability or his unwillingness to make a comment [about the allegations].
“When Knight did not respond with any denial, I took cognisance and gave pre-eminence to two well-known truths, where there’s smoke there’s fire and prevention is better than cure.”
Mr Thomson said he then registered his concern with BBC’s governing body and they agreed Knight had to go.
“I told Knight that his position was summarily terminated and I instructed him to make sure he left the school in the next 24 hours,” Mr Thomson said.
Former SA education minister ‘could have done more’
Earlier today, former South Australia education minister Dr Donald Hopgood said he could have done more to prevent Knight from ever teaching children again.
Knight had worked as a teacher in South Australia, where a 1978 inquiry held by the Education Department found he had engaged in disgraceful conduct towards students.
Dr Hopgood and Knight were in a band together at the time of the abuse.
That inquiry recommended Knight be dismissed from teaching, but Dr Hopgood instead accepted Knight’s resignation and gave him a positive reference “in the way in which he was able to lead a band”.
Knight admitted he had likely used the reference to gain a teaching job in Brisbane.
“It was a nice reference and it wasn’t drawing him into any conflict,” he said.
Yesterday, the commission heard from BSG, who said he was threatened with the loss of his scholarship at St Paul’s after he raised allegations about Knight in the 1980s.