A counsellor at a prestigious Queensland private school ritually hypnotised students before masturbating them, slapping them in the face and putting acupuncture needles in one child’s genitals, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse has heard.
The scores of alleged victims of Kevin Lynch at Brisbane Grammar school included a boy who was sexually abused in a grief counselling session given after learning his father had committed suicide.
The commission hearing in Brisbane is examining the response to abuse claims against Lynch from the 1970s to the 1990s at Grammar and later St Paul’s Anglican school, and another former St Paul’s teacher, Gregory Robert Knight in the 1980s.
Also to come under scrutiny is former South Australian education minister Don Hopgood, who was a member of the same musical group in Adelaide as Knight when he gave him a glowing personal reference on parliamentary letterhead despite allegedly knowing a departmental inquiry found Knight engaged in “disgraceful” conduct with school students.
The royal commission also heard that Hopgood ordered that the South Australian education department rescind its dismissal of Knight and accept his resignation, which enabled him to get jobs in Queensland schools. Knight lost his job at St Paul’s over abuse allegations but then taught in the Northern Territory, where he was eventually jailed over indecent dealing with a student.
One victim said he could not understand why Grammar staff had not questioned why Lynch operated out of a room that had two heavy, soundproof doors, red and green light signals controlling student access, and had significant stocks of tissues and towels.
The room was set up as a “sick conveyer belt of victims for Lynch”, he said.
BQK alleged to the commission that Wayne Cochrane, a former Grammar schoolmaster, had failed to protect him.
BQK said Grammar was “essentially a business venture which traded on its reputation and was blind to anything which didn’t accord to that vision”.
“I was badly let down by this culture of turning a blind eye and protecting the brand and it is hard not to see it is a deliberate cover up,” he said.
Counsel assisting the commission, David Lloyd, said that Lynch abused “significant numbers” of students at Grammar from 1973 to 1988 and then at St Paul’s Anglican school from 1989 to 1997.
The commission was in contact with 80 former students of both schools claiming abuse, Lloyd said.
Lynch committed suicide in 1997 a day after he was charged with sex offences against a St Paul’s student who had secretly recorded a confession.
The scale of Lynch’s abuse only came into public view following media revelations that Nigel Parodi, who shot three police then himself in 2000, was among his victims at Grammar.