Trinity Grammar School Principal Admits To Management Failures Over Student Sexual Assaults


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The principal of Sydney’s elite Trinity Grammar School has given evidence to the child abuse royal commission that is at odds with testimony already given by his deputy.

The commission is examining whether the private Sydney boys’ school responded appropriately to allegations of the rape and attempted rape of boarding house students, sometimes with a wooden dildo.

Deputy principal Peter Green last week told the commission he provided incident reports alleging multiple assaults to the principal Milton Cujes on August 11, 2000.

The reports detailed the assault of a younger boarder by senior students, as well as allegations there had been other boys subjected to rape and simulated rape.

Mr Green said that not only did he hand over the reports, but he discussed them with Mr Cujes who he said “reacted in shock”.

Responding to that evidence, Principal Cujes has told the inquiry he cannot remember receiving the reports and said his deputy left him without the full picture that day.

He told the inquiry he was left with the impression that it was a boarding house “rumble” that had gone too far.

The senior boys accused of the assault were suspended for the weekend, returning to the boarding house where their accused was still living the following week.

Commissioner Peter McLellan said Mr Cujes’ account left the impression that his deputy did not do his job properly.

“He [Mr Green] didn’t perform it appropriately at that time,” Mr Cujes replied.

Principal’s leadership questioned

Counsel assisting the inquiry, David Lloyd, put a series of questions to Mr Cujes about his leadership of the school in relation to the alleged assaults.

“Do you accept that you failed to take proper steps in response to those allegations that he [the student] made in writing of multiple boys being raped and on multiple occasions the dildo being used on boys in your boarding house?” he asked.

“I accept that if I had known, if I had read [the student’s] account I would have taken further action, and I would then have concluded, whether or not reasonable grounds existed [to notify authorities],” Mr Cujes replied.

Commissioner McLellan pressed Mr Cujes further on the issue.

“The parents who send their children to your school expect you to manage their welfare as well as you can,” he said.

“Now if a serious incident of this nature was not reported to you, and appropriate reporting to the authorities was not taken, it suggests a failure in the management of your school, doesn’t it?”

After a long pause, Mr Cujes responded that there was a failure of management in that sense and the school could that done better in that situation.

Principal denies sweeping allegations ‘under the carpet’

Under cross-examination Mr Cujes denied he tried to sweep the sexual assault allegations “under the carpet”.

Last week a former school counsellor, Katherine Lumsdaine, told the inquiry she was forced to conduct her own investigation of the boys’ complaints, because the school had not.

Her legal counsel, Peter O’Brien, put the allegation to Mr Cujes.

“You were all about protecting the reputation of the school above and beyond everything else, including the welfare of those children,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I emphatically deny that,” Mr Cujes said.

Father accuses exclusive school of neglecting son

A father has accused Sydney’s exclusive King’s School of failing to deal with the extreme bullying of his son who was indecently assaulted on a school camp in April 2013.

The student was called obscene names after a fellow student ejaculated on his sleeping bag during the camp.

The bullying got so bad and was so widely spread at the school that the student, who was code-named “CLC” to protect his identity, ran away from the school.

“One night at our house meeting a year nine student stood up in front of all the boys in the house and the teachers and said ‘CLC is a “c**rag’ and then sat back down,” CLC said.

“The other students started laughing and I’d had enough.”

The inquiry also heard the bullying continued even after CLC, who was a boarding student, told his house master what was happening.

Then after September 2013 someone at King’s changed the name of a wi-fi network at the school to say “CLC is a c**bag”.

CLC said that was the last straw.

“I was scared to move schools because I was worried that it would result in the story about me spreading further, however I felt that I couldn’t stay at the King’s School any longer,” he said.

CLC’s father told the hearing he had earlier demanded a meeting with King’s principal Timothy Hawkes over the continued harassment.

“I took away from the meeting that the school was more interested in protecting its reputation rather than helping CLC,” he said.

“Hawkes quite vigorously claimed the school dealt with the assault and bullying adequately, which I dispute heavily.”

CLC eventually transferred to Saint Ignatius College Riverview, where he found the culture quite different.

He told the inquiry he felt everyone at Riverview was there to help each other.

On one occasion, a student made fun of him and called him a “c**rag”, but CLC’s friends immediately stood up for him and reported it to staff, who made sure he was okay.

The student later apologized.

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