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Abuse victim wants St Bede's rector to quit for not investigating complaint

Newshub logoNewshub 14/09/2018 Megan Sutherland
a man wearing glasses © Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited

WARNING: The following story may be distressing to some readers.

A sex abuse victim is calling for the rector of Christchurch's St Bede's College to be sacked.

Peter Boock, 64, has complained to St Bede's College Board of Trustees and the Education Council claiming current rector Justin Boyle failed to properly investigate his complaint in 2011 that Robin Petitt, a teacher at the college at the time, had previously sexually abused him.

Mr Pettit admitted to the Otago Daily Times that the offending took place saying he was going through a "bad period" in his life after finding out he was adopted. 

Mr Boock was 13-years-old when the alleged abuse took place in Dunedin, Mr Pettit was 19.

In 2011 Mr Boock learnt that Mr Pettit was a teacher at St Bede's College and laid a complaint about the historic incident.

After informing Mr Boyle, Mr Boock claims it was was not properly investigated. 

"Mr Boyle said he would come back to me because he had to complete the investigation, sometime or some days later he came back to me and said that he had looked into [the man's] past and that he couldn't find any indiscretions from his past from the records that were kept and that it would probably be a one-off," he says.

"He had an absolute responsibility to take that confession to the board and the lawyers and then move it into a full investigation and then to the teachers' council. He failed to do so."

Mr Boock says the alleged offending "stole his youth". 

"It had a huge impact on my youth - it was stolen from me at 13 years of age. I went through nightmares I went through hell."

Now he is calling for Mr Boyle to stand down. 

"I'm calling for the removal of Mr Boyle, he has absolutely let down the parents the board and the institution of St Bedes he had harboured a self-confessed sex abuser. 

"I wanted to protect the lives of children. I wasn't after revenge, I didn't want to go to the police and go through the trauma."

Peter Boock. © Newshub Peter Boock.

St Bede's College categorically denies Mr Boock's claims that it was not properly investigated, Board of Trustees Chairman Warren Johnstone said in a statement.

"The College has and will always ensure that any complaint of misconduct is properly investigated and addressed while respecting people's right to privacy and proper process.

"The College is unable to make any further comment as the issue is now the subject of an inquiry by the Education Council," Mr Johnstone says.

The Education Council told Newshub they are in the early stages of investigating the complaint and that there are a number of options where a teacher is found to have committed an act of misconduct or serious misconduct, ranging from a censure through to cancellation of registration.

The Education Council's rules state that a school (employee) report to the Education Council if it has reason to believe a teacher has committed an act or omission that may be the subject of a prosecution for a punishable offence.

If there was evidence that the safety of children is at risk, the Education Council would seek an 'undertaking not to teach' from the teacher while the investigation is ongoing and for any further action by the Council after this.

Mr Boock is hoping all sexual abuse complaints are properly investigated going forward so other children don't have to go through the same trauma he did.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention and mental health:

Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counseling service on 0800 543 354

Need to talk? 1737 – free call or text any time to talk to a trained counselor

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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