Graphic evidence of sexual abuse of boys at two prestigious Brisbane schools and repeated failure to report matters to Queensland police has been heard by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.
Over the next two weeks, 31 witnesses including former Governor-General and former Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth, will give evidence about alleged abuse at Brisbane Boys Grammar and St Paul’s College.
Two former employees of the schools – Kevin John Lynch and Gregory Robert Knight – are the focus of the Royal Commission.
The extent of abuse at Brisbane Grammar was revealed after former student Nigel Parodi, allegedly abused by Lynch, shot three Queensland police officers, two in the face, in an inner-Brisbane suburb in 2000.
All three officers survived but after Parodi committed suicide, dozens of former Grammar students approached the school alleging they too had been abused by Lynch.
In an opening statement counsel assisting the commission David Lloyd gave detailed summary of the evidence that would be given.
“Lynch sexually abused a significant number of boys during counselling sessions. The abuse often involved Lynch hypnotising boys, asking them to undress themselves and to masturbate themselves. Lynch also often fondled the boys’ genitals. Lynch told the boys that this was all part of the therapy he was providing. Many of the boys believed him,” Mr Lloyd said.
“Counselling sessions with Lynch were openly referred to as ‘wanking with Skippy’, a reference to Lynch’s nickname ‘Skippy’ which was given to him because he walked with a limp.”
Some former students at St Paul’s allegedly told then headmaster Gilbert Case that “Lynch was spreading their personal information, including the size of their penises”.
Lynch was charged on 22 January 1997 and committed suicide the following day.
At Lynch’s well-attended funeral at St Paul’s there was no mention of his suicide or the charges against him.
The hearing heard Knight was employed at Brisbane Grammar in 1980 and St Paul’s from 1981 to 1984. He had a history of child sexual abuse in South Australia and had been convicted of child sex offences in the Northern Territory.
Counsel assisting said there will be a particular emphasis on what information was known by the senior staff of Brisbane Grammar and St Paul’s about both abusers’ behaviour.
“This case study will explore the issue of what information about finding of misconduct and the like against teachers is shared between agencies which monitor, and regulate the employment of teachers in the States and Territories of Australia,” Mr Lloyd said.
Mr Lloyd gave repeated examples where students who complained or protested at their treatment by the abusers were told they were lying and warned off going to the police.
The Royal Commission was told Knight avoided dismissal from Grammar by offering to resign and was given a statement of service.
Knight was allegedly defended by the former headmaster of St Paul’s Gilbert Case, which Mr Case denies.
Mr Case accepted Knight’s resignation from St Paul’s instead of dismissing him after further allegations at a school camp in 1984 and wrote him a glowing reference.
Mr Case was employed in 2001 by then Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth as executive director of the Anglican Schools Office of the Diocese of Brisbane.
In a press release in 2000, Mr Hollingworth said, “A worrying aspect is that children who were subjected to misconduct did not complain to those in authority or question the actions of the perpetrator… I am advised that the school knew nothing about the misconduct before the councillor committed suicide.”