Trinity Grammar School sex abuse inquiry: Students raped other students, Royal Commission hears

By @chelean on
Youth take their seats in an amphitheatre prior to an exam at Istanbul University June 17, 2007.
Youth take their seats in an amphitheatre prior to an exam at Istanbul University June 17, 2007. Reuters/Fatih Saribas

Trinity Grammar School students had raped each other more than 15 years ago, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard. The prestigious Anglican school in Sydney has come under fire following two boys’ complaints of sexual abuse in the school.

In the inquiry on Thursday, it was heard that the two boys were repeatedly “raped” with different pole-like wooden implements – which their attackers had called Anaconda, the Excalibur, the Dagger and the school house bat – in their boarding house in 2000.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, David Lloyd, told the commission that the school staff knew about the sexual abuse against a Year 7 student for a month before any action was taken. The student, known as CLA, suffered at least 50 attacks.

“Between 11 August 2000 and 7 September 2000, at least some staff at the school were aware of multiple written accounts of students who alleged that there had been repeated incidents of rape or simulated rape of young boys in the boarding house by the use of wooden dildo and other implements, yet no notification of the details of these incidents was given to the NSW Police or the Department of Community Services until 7 September 2000,” he said in his opening address.

CLA’s father was emotional as he told the commission that his son was attacked on his birthday. The boy was bound with tape as he was raped with a wooden dildo that had been made by one of his attackers in woodwork class. His father said that the school did not inform him and his wife of the details of their son’s assault. Instead, they learnt it from a police transcript.

Trinity Grammar School, according to the father, did not expel the students when he requested that they do so. Headmaster Milton Cujes apparently even suggested as a solution that CLA live with him on campus.

The father recalled an unusual meeting with Cujes one day after the principal turned up unannounced at a friend’s play. The father wanted a resolution through the courts, rather than the “transformative justice” that Cujes had strongly advocated, AAP reports.

CLA’s family eventually settled with the school, receiving $500,000 to pay for their legal costs and put CLA, who is now 32, through university. Two of the four boys sued pleaded guilty to indecent assault charges. They were given non-custodial sentences and released on conditions, according to the ABC.

Another boy, named CLB, had a similar story, saying he was raped about 50 times with “pole-like” implements such as cricket bats and saucepan handles.

Counsellor Katherine Lumdaine told the commission that deputy headmaster Peter Green did not believe the boy’s claim. She said that Green dismissed CLB’s claims as exaggeration.

“He said to me, ‘If CLB said something happened 50 times, it was probably only 25. He always exaggerates,” she said. The school, she said, gave her the impression that she should just keep quiet about the incidents.

The Royal Commission inquiry is hearing evidence about responses to harmful sexual behaviour at Trinity Grammar School and two other faith-based private school – The King’s School and St Ignatius College  -- three unnamed NSW public primary schools and private school Shalom Christian College in Queensland.