Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Geelong Grammar's sordid and not so distant past.

From today's Age 

Students at one of Australia's richest and most exclusive private schools suffered serious sexual abuse up until 2007, with victims afraid to report the abuse due to a "code of silence", the royal commission has heard.

The royal commission into child abuse has turned its focus to Geelong Grammar, and will hear evidence over the next two weeks that senior staff knew about allegations of sexual abuse.

Victims are set to give evidence of being hypnotised by a reverend who fondled their genitals, and being sexually abused while they slept in their boarding house.

"It is anticipated that there will be evidence that employees at Geelong Grammar, including very senior staff, knew about a number of allegations of sexual abuse at the school at or around the time the abuse was occurring," counsel assisting the royal commission, David Lloyd said in his opening address.

Mr Lloyd said the evidence would detail "serious and in some cases repeated sexual abuse" that occured at the school.

The public hearing will focus on Geelong Grammar's response to five employees who have been convicted of child sexual abuse and will hear from 23 witnesses, including six former students, three former principals and current principal Stephen Meek. The abuse occurred over 47 years, from the late 1950s until 2007.

The first student to give evidence on Tuesday, BKU, started at the school in 1957 and was abused by house tutor John Buckley, who stroked his genitals after a drama performance.

John Buckley, an art dealer, housemaster and grade 5 teacher at the school's junior campus in Toorak, Glamorgan, has admitted he abused six boys. He has not yet been sentenced.

Another former student, Sydney psychiatrist Dr Robert Llewellyn-Jones, will give evidence on Tuesday of the extensive bullying he experienced at the school.

He will also recount how he witnessed one student forcibly masturbating another student in the boarding house.

"Dr Lleywellyn-Jones did not report his abuses or the bullying because of a "code of silence" which formed part of the school's culture," Mr Lloyd said.

Geelong Grammar's response to Graham Dennis, who was employed at the school in the 1950s and charged in 2008 with gross indecency and indecent assault on male students, will also be examined.

Jonathan Harvey who worked at the school's main campus in Geelong, Corio, up until 2004, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual abuse and gross indecency with a male.

In 2005, former Geelong Grammar tutor Phillipe Vincent Trutmann, was sentenced to up to six-and-a-half years in jail for sexually abusing 40 young male boarders between 1985 and 1995 as they slept. He was also charged with possessing 485 images and 159 videos of child pornography.

"Sometimes the boys did not wake," Mr Lloyd said. "At other times they were awake but did not move because they were frozen with fear."

A former boarding master and two female staff members raised concerns about Mr Trutmann's behaviour.

In October 2007, teacher Stefan van Vuuren took photos up the skirts of female students.

In this instance, the "actions of the school were swift", counsel assisting said.

The royal commission will also hear that Reverend John Davison attempted to hypnotise a group of students and fondled a student's genitals. The student- BKO- reported the abuse but will tell the hearing that he found the process threatening and was told he would be expelled.

The school did not appear to have any written policies or procedures regarding child sexual abuse before 1993 or 1994.

Geelong Grammar was established in 1855 and is Australia's largest co-ed boarding school, with 1500 students.

The hearing continues.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/sex-abuse-royal-commission-geelong-grammar-students-were-afraid-to-report-abuse-by-teachers-20150901-gjcegd.html#ixzz3kSF8vU2F
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