Top Australian school faces sexual abuse allegations; Victims open up before Royal commission of enquiry

By @diplomatist10 on
A drawing done by a sexual abuse victim
A drawing done by a sexual abuse victim is seen next to a stuffed toy, at the appeal court in Phnom Penh August 18, 2010. . Reuters/Chor Sokunthea

An elite Australian school has come into limelight for alleged sexual abuse of its students for many decades. Now the victims are speaking out their tales of abuse before a Royal commission of enquiry that is looking into the sexual harassment cases in the school spanning many decades.  

The school, Geelong Grammar, was established in 1855 and enjoys a prestigious reputation. Its famous students include Prince Charles, Rupert Murdoch and the late Kerry Packer. The Royal commission’s enquiry is now revealing the illustrious school’s dark chapters too.  

Chaplain touched genitals

One former student told the commission that he was abused by a Chaplain who touched his genitals and threatened to expel him if the abuse was reported.

"You're really lucky... we didn't believe you, but [the chaplain] confessed," he quoted the staff as having told him.

Many other former students, who deposed before the commission, recounted their harrowing experiences of abuses and the hardships they endured for daring to report the abuses. Some of them said the school chose to ignore the sex-abuse complaints for decades. 

“I found the principal's response guarded, dismissive and aimed at derailing my questions,” one victim said.

One of the witness, referred to as BKO by the commission, said the school in Victoria was concerned more with hushing up scandals rather than stopping the abuse. Another witness, described as BKM, asked the commission to direct Geelong Grammar to repay the fees of abuse victims.

“They made my father pay an exceptional amount of money," he said and added “I was sexually abused, and repeatedly and seemingly uncaringly, re-exposed to the situation that allowed the abuse.”

Another witness recalled how his mother was forced to pay the fees for the remaining term even after he was expelled from the school for reporting sexual abuse. Among the most famous alumni of the school are Prince Charles, who spent two terms at the school, though he is not involved with the commission, reports BBC.

Victims and villains

The hearing by the Royal commission has helped in unearthing tales of sexual abuse by students at CGS boarding, in the 1960s and 1970s. It is being revealed that the main sexual offenders were chaplains, house residents and other students. The witnesses before the Royal commission include students, teachers, past and present headmasters. The main perpetrator, Jonathan Harvey, who was jailed for 10-months for offences committed in the 70s, is also one of the witnesses, reports 9 News.

In a statement, the current principal of Geeolong Grammar, Stephen Meek, said the school “absolutely condemns any form of abuse... that has occurred at the school in the past.”  He also expressed regret at the fact that not all students could receive the deserved care and support from the school authorities.

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