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Former Trinity College Colac Teacher Kevin Myers Jailed for Child Sexual Abuse, Current Principal Praises Victims" Bravery

By Nicole Mills and Steven Schubert
ABC News
March 10, 2020

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-10/former-colac-teacher-kevin-myers-jailed-for-child-sexual-abuse/12039656

The principal of a Catholic school in country Victoria has praised the "unbelievably courageous" child sexual abuse survivors who brought a former teacher to justice for his crimes.

Trinity College Colac principal Paul Clohesy attended the court hearings of former teacher Kevin Wilmore Myers, who pleaded guilty to 12 charges involving nine victims spanning from the 1980s to 90s.

Myers was sentenced in the County Court to 15 years in jail for the historical child sexual abuse offences.

Myers, now aged 74, worked as a science teacher at Trinity College Colac, where he met most of his victims.

While the exact circumstances of each offence varied, he would often invite students to surf life saving club events and ply them with alcohol.

A number of victims woke up to find Myers groping or sucking their penis.

In sentencing, Judge Gabrielle Cannon told Myers he had "grossly breached their trust and the trust their parents had placed in you".

"You offended against them when they were in a most vulnerable position, away from home and asleep," Judge Cannon said.

Two of the victims were apprentices who were abused by Myers after he left teaching and became a chef.

The investigation into Myers's offending began after one of the victims contacted the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Victoria Police began an investigation, with other victims coming forward to disclose their abuse.

Judge Cannon commended their bravery.

"The nature of this offending meant the victims could not tell anyone for many years, allowing you to spend the best years of your life in the community while your victims lost theirs," she said.

New principal apologises to victims

Mr Clohesy, who took over as principal at the co-educational high school in 2019, said he attended the hearings to show victims the school was there to support them - after it failed to provide that support decades ago.

PHOTO: Paul Clohesy was appointed principal of Trinity College Colac in 2019. (ABC News: Steven Schubert)

"Going into that courtroom, having Kevin Myers sitting at the back, but then having those courageous victims who are now adults there and telling their story, I felt enormously privileged to be there," Mr Clohesy said.

"And I just felt empathy for them.

Last month, Mr Clohesy wrote to all parents at the school located about two hours south-west of Melbourne to inform them of Myers's guilty plea and "apologising unreservedly" to the victims.

He told the ABC that as the current head of Trinity College, he wanted to apologise for the "abhorrent" actions of the former teacher.

"I think that all schools and all institutions need to be transparent about their past, however ugly that might be," he said.

"So my first thought was really for those victims, and ... whether I was here or not, this school is involved in that and I felt it needed to apologise to those victims."

Mr Clohesy said he wasn't concerned about how the letter might affect the school's reputation.

"I've always felt that you can't harm your reputation by being honest and being open," he said.

"We just want the students that come here to be safe and supported and cared for."

When asked about whether schools were changing the way they respond to child sexual abuse allegations, Mr Clohesy simply replied: "I'd hope so."

He said fellow Catholic school principal John Crowley had "done a power of work" at St Patrick's College in Ballarat to change the culture of secrecy to one of openness, acceptance and support for victims.

Mr Crowley previously worked as a deputy principal at Trinity College Colac, and was recently appointed acting principal at St Kevin's College in Toorak - after a Four Corners investigation into the school's response to the grooming of a student led to staff resignations.

Mr Clohesy said he agreed with Mr Crowley's approach.

"I've always believed, and have been told by lots of wise people before me, that when things have happened you need to be transparent," Mr Clohesy said.

"The door is open here, or anywhere, if [the survivors] felt it would be in any way helpful in their dealing with what they've gone through for the school to act in any other way or to support them in any way.

Myers will be eligible to apply for parole in 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 




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