Report into Geelong Grammar School released

Report into Geelong Grammar School released

The Royal Commission’s report into Case Study 32 – the response of Geelong Grammar School to allegations of child sexual abuse of former students at the school – was released today.

The report follows a public hearing in September and October 2015 which inquired into the response of Geelong Grammar’s school council, principals and other members of staff to concerns raised about inappropriate conduct, or complaints about child sexual abuse, by teaching and non-teaching staff at the school.

The Royal Commission heard evidence from 13 former students at the school who told the public hearing they were sexually abused by staff at the school between 1956 and 1989. The mothers of two former students also gave evidence.

The Royal Commission heard that two survivor witnesses and their mothers reported the abuse to the school at the time it was occurring. These witnesses gave evidence that no action was taken by Geelong Grammar School and the perpetrators remained at the school.

Five staff members at Geelong Grammar School – Graham Leslie Dennis, John Hamilton Buckley, Stefan Van Vuuren, Philippe Trutmann and John Fitzroy Clive Harvey (known as Jonathan Harvey) – have been convicted of child sex offences.

In 2005, Philippe Trutman was convicted of offences against 40 students at Geelong Grammar between 1985 and 1995 and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting Geelong Grammar student BIW and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, which was wholly suspended. The Royal Commission heard that when BIW had complained to staff about the abuse, he was told to keep the matter to himself. When BIW was later overheard discussing the abuse with two other students, he was asked to leave the school. No member of staff notified the police of the allegations. The Royal Commission found that the principal at the time, Mr John Lewis, should have ensured the allegations were investigated and the school council notified.

In relation to Johnathan Harvey, the Royal Commission was satisfied that by 1991, Mr Lewis knew of allegations that Harvey sexually abused students in 1982 and 1985 as well as allegations of inappropriate conduct with students, such as giving them alcohol and allowing them to visit his residence.

Despite this knowledge, Mr Lewis allowed Harvey to remain in a position where he had unsupervised access to students. Mr Lewis took no steps to prepare policies or procedures to protect the safety and welfare of students.

Further allegations were made against Harvey in 2004. The then principal of Geelong Grammar School, Mr Nicholas Sampson, agreed to allow Harvey to remain at the school for the rest of that year before retiring. Harvey was also paid a full year’s salary for 2005 and Mr Sampson did not record in writing the real reason for Harvey’s departure. The Royal Commission found that, although Mr Sampson verbally informed others at the school of the allegations, he should have made a documentary record of the reasons for Harvey’s departure.

The Royal Commission also heard evidence that a former student BIR made a claim for compensation with the school after he was abused by a teacher, BIM. The Royal Commission was satisfied that at no time did the school reveal to BIR information about BIM’s employment history with the school. The Royal Commission found that BIR would have benefited from this knowledge and in not disclosing the information to BIR, the school preferred its financial interests to BIR’s interests.

The Royal Commission heard that before 1994, Geelong Grammar had no formal systems, policies and procedures in place dealing specifically with child sexual abuse, or to prevent child abuse. Although policies are now in place, there is no system to either monitor the success of the policies or capture how often teachers are reporting allegations, in accordance with the policies and procedures.

Read the full report.