Former Trinity College Teachers Found Guilty of Failing to Report Suspected Child Sexual Abuse
By Rebecca Turner
November 3, 2020
|The alleged abuse occurred on a school rugby trip to Japan.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)|
Two former teachers at prestigious Catholic boys school Trinity College in Perth have been found guilty of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse.
Warning: this story contains graphic content that some readers may find upsetting.
Ian Francis Hailes and Anthony Paul Webb were both fined $1,200 in the Perth Magistrates Court this morning and given spent convictions.
They are believed to be the first people convicted under WA's mandatory reporting laws.
Their case relates to a school rugby trip to Japan, during which they learned that one of the students in their care, named as AB, was allegedly sexually assaulted by some of his team mates.
They were the only people to be charged as a result of the alleged incident at a hotel on the outskirts of Tokyo in April 2017.
|Anthony Paul Webb was fined $1,200 after he failed to report the alleged abuse.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)|
Mandatory reporting is a legal obligation to report suspected cases of child sexual abuse and applies, for example, to doctors, nurses, educators, midwives and school boarding supervisors.
They must have reasonable grounds of suspicion, including if the child has told them they have been sexually abused or if they witnessed a child being sexually abused.
The maximum fine for breaching the laws is $6,000.
Mr Hailes's defence lawyer, Michael Tudori, said the case was the first prosecution of its type, with a Department of Communities spokesperson adding it was the first prosecution and conviction they were aware of.
Teachers made 'misguided decision', magistrate says
In his evidence, AB said he told the tour group about the alleged incident at a "fines session", a mealtime meeting run by Mr Hailes and Mr Webb where student misdemeanours would be raised and those responsible would pay a 100-yen fine into a dish.
|Ian Frances Hailes (right) was found guilty of not reporting the alleged sexual abuse of a student.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)|
Magistrate Evan Shackleton found both men had formed a reasonable belief on the rugby tour that AB might have been sexually assaulted with a carrot but did not report it, as required under the laws.
But he said they had made a "misguided decision" to respect AB's wishes to not take the matter further, not out of a desire to protect themselves or the school but to protect AB.
Prosecutor James Bennett said as educators, the teachers were trusted with looking after the students on tour and were well aware of their obligations to make mandatory reports.
In determining the penalty, Mr Shackleton said both men were of prior good character, were long-time teachers with unblemished records and were unlikely to offend again.
Both men lost their jobs as a result of the incident and have not worked again since.
|Prosecutor James Bennett said the men, as educators, were "well aware" of their reporting obligations.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)|