Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]
May 21, 2021
By Lucy MacDonald
A former southern Tasmanian high school teacher is facing allegations he sexually abused two male students in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
- The man is accused of serious and repeated sexual abuse against two boys dating back to the late 1980s
- A law firm is pursuing civil action on behalf of the two men and is calling for others to come forward
- It’s understood the man also taught at other state schools
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a teacher at Kingston High School during the period of the alleged offending.
Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing the two men and has called for anyone who attended Kingston High School between 1980 and 2005 who knows anything to come forward.
Senior associate John Rule said the allegations against the teacher were “serious”.
“[It was allegedly] repeated abuse and involved quite sophisticated grooming over a long period of time,” he said.
“Both allegations are of serious sexual abuse. [The men] have suffered quite devastating impacts on their lives as a result of that.”
He said the men had both approached the firm in the past few months and they were now going through the process of trying to find witnesses or other people who were affected.
Sexual assault support services:
- 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
- Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114
- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
“While it’s in the early stages, we think that based on what we know already that there were probably many others also affected, and we think that their cases are going to be very strong,” said Mr Rule.
“We don’t actually know the exact time that he was at the school, but we understand that it was far more broad than the period of offending that we know about so far.”
Mr Rule said he also believed the man taught at other schools, comparing it with how the Catholic Church handled allegations.
“Unfortunately, that’s our understanding, he has taught at other schools, other state schools, and has also been involved in other institutions around Hobart where we suspect other offending may have happened,” he said.
“It is a little bit like how the Catholic Church handled problem priests. When there were complaints, rather than reporting it to the police or dealing with it internally institutions tended to move them on to another school or another town, and often these sorts of problems start all over again in the new school.”
Mr Rule is also investigating allegations against a different alleged abuser at a Launceston school in the 1980s.
He had been in touch with three survivors of abuse who alleged they were abused in primary school.
“Summerdale is a different offender, different case, but also the same problem arises in that case in that the alleged offender was moved around from other schools before and after Summerdale. So we expect that there will be further actions involving his time at other schools,” he said.
Tasmania has just launched its Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings, following a slew of allegations against a former nurse at the Launceston General Hospital.
A State Government spokesman said:
“We take all allegations of child sexual abuse extremely seriously, which is why we called the Commission of Inquiry. This will allow any historical offences to come to light and ensure justice is served.
“Of course, we encourage anyone who has any information about child sexual abuse to go to the police so it can be investigated immediately.
Mr Rule said he expected the inquiry would be “quite confronting for people”.
“We saw that in the Royal Commission [into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse] back in 2015, the extent of child sex abuse and how prevalent it was in a number of institutions,” he said.
“From what we know about Tasmania and what’s happened there in the past. I think the inquiry is going to be extremely revealing and quite confronting.”
Mr Rule said he was pursuing civil action on behalf of the men by “seeking damages against the institution and potentially against the individual”.
He said the case was in the “investigation” stage and he hoped to take the next step — resolving it directly with the state or filing court proceedings — within the next month or so.