You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Knox head 'covered up' abuse allegations

AAP logoAAP 13/09/2016 By Dan McCulloch

A former long-serving headmaster of Sydney's elite Knox Grammar School covered up allegations of child abuse by staff and gave clearly incorrect evidence about his knowledge of such accusations, a royal commission has found.

Dr Ian Paterson, who served as headmaster at the exclusive north shore boys' school for almost 30 years, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sex Abuse last year he only heard of one instance of sex abuse at the school.

But in a report released on Tuesday, the commission found his evidence was "clearly incorrect", and Dr Paterson knew of allegations against three other teachers and an "affair" between another teacher and a student.

Dr Paterson was also aware of a sexual assault on a 14-year-old student, known as ARN, in one of the boarding house dormitories by a man wearing a balaclava, the commission found.

The commissioners said Dr Paterson failed to prioritise the welfare of the boys at Knox over the reputation of the school by covering up allegations in relation to two teachers, and failing to notify the parents of a boy who made allegations.

A number of former students reported the abuse to police in 2009 after a taskforce was established to investigate allegations of historical child sex offences at the school.

Five teachers from Knox - Roger James, Adrian Nisbett, Damien Vance, Craig Treload and Barrie Stewart - were charged and later convicted of child sex offences against students.

Dr Paterson told the commission that during his 29 years in the role, between 1969 and 1998, he was only aware of one instance of sexual abuse involving Vance.

But the commission found this was clearly wrong.

It found he knew of allegations involving Nisbett, Treloar, Stewart and an "affair" between then-student Anthony Carden and a teacher, known as ARZ.

Nisbett continued to teach at Knox until 2004 and Treloar stayed on at the school until 2009.

The commission found Dr Paterson provided "misleading and positive" references to both James and Vance.

During Dr Paterson's time as headmaster of Knox, his attitude and the culture he fostered at the school were dismissive of allegations of child sexual abuse and he deliberately withheld information from the school's council, the commission found.

Current Knox headmaster John Weeks said the school fully supported the royal commission's findings.

"Whilst the tabling of the report represents the end of the Commission's role, it is not the end of our vigilance and commitment to ensure that the failures of the past are not repeated, and that as a community we work to ensure we never fail our young people again," Mr Weeks said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon