Royal Commission appeals for information about child abuse at Geelong Grammar School


Royal Commission appeals for information about child abuse at Geelong Grammar School

VICTORIA’S most exclusive private boarding school, Geelong Grammar, is being investigated for child abuse.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has announced it would “like anyone who has information regarding child sexual abuse” at the school to come forward.

The school, whose fees are among the most expensive in the country at $34,000 for year 12, has some highly notable alumni including Prince Charles, Kerry Packer and novelist Peter Carey.

In a statement, the commission said: “If you were sexually abused at Geelong Grammar School, or have any information about sexual abuse of a child at Geelong Grammar School, the Royal Commission would like to hear from you.”

The commission vowed that anyone who provides information will be protected and their information will be kept confidential.

At this stage, no public hearing into Geelong Grammar has been announced.

“If a hearing is announced at a later date, victims of child sexual abuse will not be compelled to give evidence if they do not wish to,” said the statement.

The school has five campuses in Victoria including Senior School in Corio, Timbertop in Mansfield, Middle School in Corio, Toorak Campus in Toorak and Bostock House Campus in Newtown.

Just two weeks ago it was reported a letter was sent to parents regarding sexual abuse, calling on former students abused by staff members to come forward.

In a letter, principal Stephen Meek said the school had given information about the conduct of some former staff members to the Royal Commission.

He said some of the cases, dating back to the 1960s, had already been dealt with by the courts.

Former Geelong Grammar staff member Phillipe Trutmann was jailed in 2005 for abusing more than 40 boys.

Trutmann, a boarding house assistant at the Anglican co-educational school, abused eight to 13-year-old boys over a decade from 1985.

Mr Meek said the school would send the notice to former students and the school community and would also offer details of a counselling service.

“The school is appalled at any form of abuse,” he said. “I commend the courage of all those who have already brought, and any who will bring, matter before the royal commission.”

“The school deeply regrets the wrongful conduct by some of its former staff.”

It was also announced yesterday that Royal Commissioner Justice Jennifer Coate will address a special forum in Warrnambool.

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said the community forum is open to any members of the public.

“We particularly encourage people who have been affected by child sexual abuse in the care of an institution to attend,” Mr Reed said.

In addition to the community forum, private sessions will also be held in the region.

“Over the course of the week, survivors of child sexual abuse living in Warrnambool will have the opportunity to tell the Royal Commission of their experiences in a private session with a Commissioner,” Mr Reed said.

The Royal Commission has already held more than 3400 private sessions across Australia. Most recently the commission spent two weeks in Ballarat hearing from victims, teachers and notorious convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale.

Another prestigious Melbourne school, Scotch College, also acknowledged recently that at least five students had been abused in the past.

In a letter to parents, principal Tom Batty said it was impossible to imagine the suffering caused by “those who betrayed the position of trust”.

Xavier College recently revealed nine cases of sexual abuse from the 1960s and ’70s and a teacher at Ivanhoe Grammar was stood down earlier this year after being charged with 33 sexual offences that allegedly happened more than two decades ago.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/royal-commission-appeals-for-information-about-child-abuse-at-geelong-grammar-school/story-fni0fit3-1227389935155

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