Townsville School Told Raped Student's Parents to "Leave It Alone', Child Abuse Royal Commission Told

By Ben Millington
ABC News
November 2, 2016's-school's-handling-of-rape/7988926

A north Queensland school principal allegedly discouraged the parents of a girl who was raped by four boys from reporting the matter to police, the child abuse royal commission has heard.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking into how Townsville's Shalom Christian College handled the sexual assault of a 14-year-old female student known as CLF.

The girl's parents gave evidence at a hearing in Sydney on Wednesday, and said the school's principal at the time, Christopher Shirley, told them the boys involved were from influential Indigenous families in the area.

"At this point I got [Christopher] Shirley's message, get over it and leave it alone," said the girl's mother.

"He was in shut down and protecting the school mode. He was also treating us like we were dumb black people."

The parents also alleged Mr Shirley implied their daughter had been "promiscuous" and "asking for it" before the rape.

They told the hearing the school failed to notify police of the attack, and they only found out about it while attending the campus in relation to another matter, several days after the incident.

The commission was also told the girl was never taken to hospital or offered any professional counselling.

The school's principal Mr Shirley is yet to give evidence.

In his opening statement, counsel-assisting the inquiry David Lloyd said he anticipated Mr Shirley would tell the commission the school was significantly under-resourced and had few policies in place to deal with students exhibiting harmful or problematic sexual behaviour.

In a statement, the Uniting Church said the Shalom Christian College was committed to working with the royal commission.

Reverend David Baker said the Church and the school were taking the matters seriously.

"The Church is working with the royal commission at every level and supports its mission to create a safer future for young people," he said in the statement.

"We will implement changes to better protect and serve those in our care if any shortcomings are identified."








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