School Delayed Reporting Alleged Sexual Assault for Four Days

By Patsy McGarry
Irish Times
December 2, 2016

The headmaster’s house, Brooklawn House, at the King’s Hospital school in Palmerstown, Dublin

The Dublin boarding school where a 13-year-old boy last week allegedly suffered a serious sexual assault with a hockey stick delayed reporting it to the authorities for four days, despite being told by lawyers to do so immediately.

The incident is alleged to have happened in a dormitory at the Church of Ireland-governed King’s Hospital school in Palmerstown on Thursday night last week.

It was reported to the school authorities the following morning, and the school’s lawyers advised later that day that the matter be reported to the Garda and the child and family agency Tusla.

“They were absolutely clear about that,” a source said in relation to the legal advice. However, the advice was not acted upon until Tuesday of this week.

The eight pupils allegedly involved in the assault, believed to be peers of the boy, have since been suspended by the school.

The Irish Times understands the boy claims he was sexually assaulted twice with the hockey stick.

The school contacted lawyers on Friday for legal opinion on dealing with the matter, and was advised to report it to Tusla and the gardai immediately.

Mobile phones

However, this was not done until late on Tuesday afternoon of this week. By this stage, The Irish Times had contacted the school with questions about the matter.

It has also emerged the boy’s family was told last Friday that the school had been in contact with Tusla.

This was understood by the family to mean the alleged incident had been reported to Tusla. However, it is understood the school had put a hypothetical case to the agency, seeking an opinion on what was the best course of action in an apparently construed situation.

The Irish Times has also learned the school authorities confiscated mobile phones belonging to the alleged attackers last Tuesday because it suspected the incident had been filmed and photographed.

In an address to the school’s parents’ association last September, King’s Hospital headmaster John Rafter told them “the new policy with regard to mobile phones for 1st to 3rd-year boarders was to have them hand-up their phones at night”.

Combined statement

It is understood the school was in contact last Tuesday afternoon with the family of the boy allegedly attacked to say the media had become aware of the alleged incident.

It is believed the school asked whether the family might agree to a combined statement from the school and themselves.

The family declined.

Contact details for members of the school’s parents’ association were removed from the King’s Hospital website on Thursday.

However, Hazel Boles, a member of the parents’ association and the boarding parents’ representative on the school’s board of management, said she felt constrained from commenting.

“I didn’t know the details,” she said.

She said there were plans for the school board to meet about the matter but it had yet to be agreed when this would happen.








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