Report into Brisbane Grammar and St Paul's School released

15 February 2017

The Royal Commission’s Report into Case Study No. 34 - The response of Brisbane Grammar School and St Paul’s School to allegations of child sexual abuse, was released today.

The report follows a public hearing held in Brisbane in November 2015, which heard about the experiences of former students at Brisbane Grammar School at Spring Hill and St Paul’s School at Bald Hills. The public hearing also examined how the schools and others responded to allegations of child sexual abuse of former students.

At the public hearing a number of former students of the schools gave evidence of having been sexually abused by:

  • Kevin Lynch (deceased) – a teacher and later counsellor at Brisbane Grammar between 1973 and 1988 and a counsellor at St Paul’s between 1989 and 1997

  • Gregory Robert Knight – a teacher at St Paul’s between 1981 and 1984.

The Royal Commission heard evidence that, during the period of Kevin Lynch’s employment at Brisbane Grammar, he sexually abused a large number of students. There was evidence that a number of complaints against Kevin Lynch were made to senior staff at Brisbane Grammar and to the then headmaster, Dr Howell (now deceased).

The Royal Commission was satisfied that Dr Howell did not investigate an allegation brought to his attention and did not report the matter to the police or board of trustees, failing in his obligations to protect the safety and wellbeing of the students.

In 1989, after he left Brisbane Grammar, Kevin Lynch gained employment at St Paul’s as the school counsellor. He remained in that position until 1997.  Former students of the school told the Royal Commission that Kevin Lynch had sexually abused them while he was employed at St Paul’s. The Royal Commission heard that the school was aware of complaints of sexual abuse of students by Kevin Lynch and took no action to deal with those complaints.

The Royal Commission is satisfied that two students made complaints to Mr Gilbert Case, the then headmaster of St Paul’s, that Kevin Lynch had been sexually abusing them. Mr Case told the students they were lying and threatened to punish them if they persisted with the allegations.

On 22 January 1997, while Kevin Lynch was still employed as the school counsellor, the Queensland Police Service charged him with nine counts of offences committed against a St Paul’s student, BSE. The following day Kevin Lynch committed suicide.

Gregory Knight was employed as a teacher at St Paul’s between 1981 and 1984. During the period of Gregory Knight’s employment at St Paul’s, allegations were made that he sexually abused a number of students. He was later charged with, and convicted of, the sexual abuse of a student.

The Royal Commission found that the only action that St Paul’s took to deal with the allegations that Gregory Knight had sexually abused boys was that Mr Case accepted Gregory Knight’s resignation in October 1984. Mr Case gave Gregory Knight a favourable reference.

Gregory Knight went on to teach at Dripstone High School in the Northern Territory. A student at that school made allegations of child sexual abuse against Gregory Knight and the school principal immediately referred the matter to the police. Gregory Knight was later charged with and ultimately convicted of a number of counts of child sexual abuse and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

The Royal Commission heard that at Brisbane Grammar School during the time Kevin Lynch was employed, the school had no systems, policies or procedures in place for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse of students.

The Royal Commission found that at St Paul’s School, Mr Case’s inaction in response to notifications of child sexual abuse by Gregory Knight and Kevin Lynch meant that Mr Case did not achieve his most fundamental obligation, which was to ensure that students under his care were kept safe.

The Royal Commission heard that the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane had appointed Mr Case to the position of executive director of the Anglican Schools Commission, which involved liaising with schools to develop, implement and improve their policies of dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse. He was appointed to the position by a committee where two members (Dr Peter Hollingsworth and Mr Bernard Yorke) were aware of allegations that Mr Case had been told about Kevin Lynch’s sexual abuse of students and that Mr Case had not taken any action in response.

Read the full report.

Content updating Updating complete