The cover-up at St Agnes Primary: How Catholic Education protected a paedophile
“It has been confirmed that you have been touching the private parts of bodies of girls at this school …while at this point in time we don’t intend to press charges we must warn you we have witnesses…”
With the reading of this statement to a paedophile teacher on November 29, 1982, the cover-up of more than a decade of child sex abuse at St Agnes Catholic Primary School in Matraville was complete.
The abuse of girls by school teacher and netball coach Michael Drew had just been erased with the collaboration of some of the highest officials in Catholic Education.
The Herald has obtained a copy of the confidential dismissal statement read by the then headmaster, William Joseph Rooney, which allegedly provides written proof of how teachers and officers from Catholic Education discretely removed Drew without contacting police.
The document, which was highlighted during a recent civil court case involving Drew, is likely to send a shudder through the Catholic Church’s educational section as it potentially provides proof of the offence of misprision of a felony – the covering up of a crime.
From the late 1970s to 1982, Drew had sexually abused St Agnes schoolgirls, including one pupil who was so traumatised by abuse she attempted suicide in 1979 by overdosing on tablets she stole from the school’s dispensary.
Drew was convicted and jailed for numerous sex offences in 2013 after one of his victims approached police in the late 2000s.
But 34 years before, he escaped sanction after a coterie of officials and teachers enabled him to resign from his position at the school where he had been caught.