Case Study 6: Toowoomba Hearing Room Updates

Case Study 6: Update 18
24 February 2014

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded its hearing in Brisbane today in relation to the abuse of 13 young girls at a Toowoomba Catholic primary School in 2007-08.

The final witness in the hearing was the former Bishop of Toowoomba, Bill Morris, who gave evidence about his time in the Diocese and the way in which the reporting of the abuse had been handled.

Bishop Morris gave evidence that there had been a number of significant systemic failings which lead to the failure to properly deal with the abuse following the initial report.

These ranged across the failure to report the abuse to police, re-engaging the abuser as a casual teacher after he had left the school, and the school’s child protection kit being out of date at the time.

Bishop Morris said the abuse of the young girls had been the catalyst to major changes within the Catholic Education Office that have led to significant improvements in the diocesan sexual abuse policies and procedures.

Following media reports, in her closing comments to the public hearing, Presiding Member, Justice Jennifer Coate said any parent would be welcome to come forward and make a statement to the Royal Commission if they wanted to be heard.

From 10 March 2014 Commission hearings will commence into the case of civil action taken by John Ellis, the case that highlighted the difficulty that exists in suing the Catholic Church.

From 17 March 2014 in Adelaide, the Commission will look into the responses by the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide and the South Australian Police to allegations of child sexual abuse at St Ann’s Special School.

 

Case Study 6: Update 16
20 February 2014

The sixth public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continued in Brisbane today.

The case continues to examine the circumstances surrounding the response by the school and the Catholic Education Office to sexual abuse of 13 primary school girls at a primary school in Toowoomba in 2007.

Counsel Assisting resumed cross examination of Chris Fry, former senior education officer for the Toowoomba Education Office who had the responsibility for the school, including student protection responsibilities. 

Counsel sought to clarify whether Mr Fry thought the allegations raised by him with the school principal constituted child sexual assault.

He also sought to determine why the allegation was not reported to the police.

Evidence for the remainder of the day focused on process and procedures, and in particular whether procedures, as set out in the student protection kit, were followed.

Ian Hunter, the final witness for the day and another former senior education officer in the Toowoomba Catholic Education Office focussed on whether  he should have ensured the allegations were reported to police.

The hearing will reconvene tomorrow at 11.00am and continue until all the evidence has been heard.

For information on the Royal Commission go to: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/ 

Case Study 6: Update 15
19 February 2014

Case Study 6: Update 14
18 February 2014

Case Study 6: Update 13
17 February 2014

 

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