Xavier College, top Melbourne private school, admits extent of historical child sex abuse

By Jessica Longbottom
ABC News
May 4, 2015

Xavier College principal reveals extent of decades old abuse cases against students.

The principal at one of Melbourne's top private schools has, for the first time, admitted the extent of child sex abuse that took place on college grounds.

Nine Xavier College students were sexually abused at the school in the 1960s and 70s, according to principal Chris Hayes.

Another six other former students are in the process of having their claims heard.

"What I know of the 60s and 70s from some conversations is that it was a very different era," Mr Hayes said.

"There has been nine [cases] where there has been a resolution reached, and yes, they involved sexual abuse."

Mr Hayes said no criminal convictions were ever recorded for the offences.

"There has been no criminal prosecution or matter brought to the criminal court relating to any Xavier Jesuit or Xavier lay teacher referring to sexual abuse at Xavier College," he said.

He said the school was now a very different place.

"I'm very confident things have changed but in saying that we are always vigilant to make sure that the protection of children at the school is paramount," he said.

Other victims encouraged to come forward

Janusz Skarbek, who attended Xavier for three years in the 1970s, said his time there left him scarred for the rest of his life.

"Corporal punishment was quite common at the time but they went way over the top and in some cases it went as far as sexual abuse," he said.

Mr Skarbek is one of six former students still fighting for compensation from the Jesuits for alleged abuse.

He said he believed there were dozens more victims yet to come forward.

"You can't move on until that's resolved. It's defined my life and my entire family's life," he said.

The school is encouraging any other victims to come forward, to have their claims heard.

"My advice is that if they're troubled by what did take place, please go to the police," Mr Hayes said.

"If they don't feel comfortable in going to the police, they can make contact with the Jesuit professional standards committee."

The Catholic Church previously acknowledged Father John Byrne, who taught at the school in the late 60s and early 70s, was a sex abuser.

However the Jesuit Professional Standards Committee would not answer questions from the ABC about how many other sex abusers had worked at Xavier College.

Survivors said most of the offenders were now dead.


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