Report lashes Qld principal over abuse

Report lashes Qld principal over abuse

A Queensland principal failed to appropriately deal with a pedophile teacher who sexually abused 13 schoolgirls, a report has found.

Terence Hayes didn’t report two allegations of sexual abuse against teacher Gerard Byrnes in 2007, despite having clear instructions to do so in the Catholic school’s child protection kit.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse report said the steps the Toowoomba principal took to monitor Byrnes “were inadequate and inappropriate”.

Despite the allegations against him, Mr Hayes allowed Byrnes to continue in his role as child protection officer for more than six months.

Byrnes retired from the position in June 2008, but Mr Hayes also allowed him to be re-hired as a relief teacher at the same school in July 2008.

“Mr Hayes sought and enabled the re-appointment of Mr Byrnes as a relief teacher knowing of the allegations of child sexual abuse against Mr Byrnes,” the report said.

Byrnes was eventually arrested over the sexual abuse in November 2008.

The former bishop of Toowoomba, Bill Morris, learned of the abuse at that time.

The commission found Bishop Morris responded appropriately to Byrnes’s arrest by commissioning an independent investigation, appointing an independent mediator to assess and advise on reparations and establish a Child Abuse Response Team to advise on improvements to child protection.

In 2010, Byrnes was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, including a non-parole period of eight years, after pleading guilty to 44 child sexual abuse offences against 13 girls who were aged between eight and 10 years.

Mr Hayes was tried in 2009 for failing to report the abuse to authorities, but found not guilty because he had told his superiors at the Catholic Education Office.

He no longer works at the Toowoomba school concerned but had since taken a job as a grade seven teacher at another Catholic school, north of Brisbane.


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