Former Trinity College Teacher Tony Webb to Appeal Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Conviction
By Rebecca Turner
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
December 16, 2020
|Former Trinity College teacher Anthony Paul Webb is appealing his conviction.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)|
One of the first people convicted under Western Australia's child sexual abuse mandatory reporting laws has announced he is appealing, a move which has further upset a victim and his family.
Warning: this story contains graphic content that some readers may find upsetting.
Former Trinity College teacher Anthony Paul Webb — one of several who supervised a school rugby trip to Japan in 2017 in which a student was allegedly sexually assaulted by some teammates — has lodged his appeal with the Supreme Court of WA.
Mr Webb, along with his colleague Ian Francis Hailes, was found guilty last month by Perth magistrate Evan Shackleton of failing to report child sexual abuse, an offence with a $6,000 maximum penalty.
After a trial in the Perth Magistrates Court this year, they were both fined $1,200, given spent convictions and ordered to pay costs to the Department of Communities, which brought the charges.
In a statement, Mr Webb said he hoped his decision would not add to the emotional distress of his former student, known as AB.
"I taught AB in several units, was aware of his contributions to the College and, of course, was one of his rugby coaches," he said.
"As I made clear in my record of interview with the Department of Communities, and throughout the course of this matter, I have always liked AB and regarded him as an honest, conscientious, and reliable student."
Mr Webb said that the "grotesque and demeaning [alleged] assault upon AB" during the trip, which was "compounded by months of cyber-bullying" afterwards, was "unforgivable".
"It would never have occurred to me — and I still have difficulty coming to terms with the fact — that these young men were capable of behaving in such a fashion against one of their own," he said.
But AB said Mr Webb's appeal showed he was "putting his personal interest above the victim".
He said the way his alleged sexual assault had been handled caused "even further trauma" and would "continue to affect me for the rest of my life".
Appeal means 'turmoil and trauma' continues
The news of the appeal has shocked AB's family, who gave a statement to the ABC.
"Our son did nothing wrong. Yet the consequences for our family have been and continue to be devastating," the statement said.
"While Mr Webb has the right to appeal his spent conviction, his decision means that the turmoil and trauma for our family will continue regardless of Mr Webb's stated intention.
"Our family has been decimated by the events of the tour.
"To receive this news just days before Christmas is abrasive and jarring."
They said their son, who gave evidence at the trial, had been failed by those who were meant to protect him.
"We know our son to be honourable and trustworthy, with tenacity which is not easily found in others," they said.
"A less resilient child could have taken a much more devastating and final course of action following the rape."
It is not known if Mr Hailes, who was contacted by the ABC, is appealing.