Scotch College fields more historical abuse cases

By Timna Jacks, Henrietta Cook
June 8, 2015

More alleged victims of sexual abuse have contacted Scotch College in Hawthorn.
Photo by Gary Medlicott

At least two new alleged victims have contacted Scotch College amid its revelations that students were sexually abused at the school.

The Hawthorn private boys' school admitted in late May that it had settled at least five historical claims, dating back to the 1960s. It sent a letter to its alumni  urging those who suffered abuse to contact the school and seek support from its psychologist.

Scotch has since been contacted by a new group of victims, a school spokesman  confirmed.

"Since Scotch's very public invitation to contact the school, some old boys have called to discuss their time at Scotch," the spokesman said.

"When contacted, the school advises old boys to speak to the school psychologist, and it is suggested that they speak to support services and seek their own independent legal advice. At all times, Scotch acts in the interests of the old boys in an effort to help them."

Scotch has been in correspondence with one of the victims since January. Principal Tom Batty said in an email to parents last month that the school had received a handful of claims and all "had been resolved".

The victim, who does not want to be named, was physically and sexually assaulted in the late '40s. He said he left the school when he was 15 to escape constant abuse and bullying.

When he phoned the school in 1980 to inform it of the abuse, he was reminded of the statute of limitations.

"I was regularly physically and sexually abused. There have been long periods of emotional uncertainty. I have had depression. It still remains as a picture in my head."

He said while the focus had been on abuse in the '60s, it had occurred much earlier.

"They can't hide behind half-truths, the story is longer and broader than they have made it out to be."

The victim will soon meet the principal to discuss settlement.

"He seems to be a very genuine person. He wants to close this chapter of the school's history," the victim said.

One of the five victims of abuse to reach a settlement with the school, Matthew Stuart, broke his silence after 36 years on Monday, claiming the school had for years helped cover up abuse and glorify his molester, Michael Achurch.

It was revealed the school had named a trust fund after Mr Achurch, before apologising two years ago for what had happened.

Mr Achurch, who died in 1979, was a geography teacher at the school in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr Stuart is now urging others to come forward, hoping his story gives them the courage to seek help.

"I was an innocent kid. I've got nothing to be embarrassed about," he said.

The president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Dr Cathy Kezelman, commended the school for reaching out to its community, and admitting there were historical cases of abuse.

"I think it's very important that they [Scotch College] have reached out to the school community … it is good that the school is encouraging victims to come forward and go through the right way of reporting and seeking help."


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