Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Knox Grammar: the finest molestation money can buy

OK, this is one of those matters which is so gobsmacking it's practically laughable - more as  reaction of surprise than it actually containing humour, which it doesn't.   It's probably not even safe to admit to a tiny sense of Schnadenfreude, at least with respect to the super-rich fathers who sent their sons there just because their father, and his father before him, all boarded at Knox, and it doesn't really matter how the kid does academically, but the old boy network will see him into a good job.  No, not safe, and not very fair to the kid or even the father, really, but still.  No.  (In fact I should really change that title.)

Let's just go back to the original point:  the evidence of how they used to treat allegations of sexual interference with the boys at the elite Knox Grammar School in Sydney is pretty incredible.
The inquiry heard that a student came to Paterson in the late 1980s to complain a teacher, Damian Vance, had touched him inappropriately and asked him to engage in mutual masturbation. Paterson told the boy to go to the library and “think about what he was alleging”, he told the inquiry.
“He was a drama boy,” Paterson said as explanation for why he did not immediately believe the boy.
Paterson said he eventually believed him and counselled Vance but said he did not report it to police. “I was not aware it was a crime,” he said.
Paterson gave Vance a reference when he left Knox but said it had a code in it that signalled there was “more to say” on Vance because Paterson had written at the end he was happy to be contacted to discuss the reference further.
Paterson said it had not occurred to him the reference would be used by Vance to get another job as a teacher.
 Wow.   Then there is the next bit:
He also conceded he took more seriously allegations another teacher was giving senior boys alcohol and cigarettes than allegations he was molesting boys. He said he had since undergone a cultural change since the 1980s and now recognised the seriousness of child abuse allegations.
And another reference given to a man with serious, serious issues:
Chris Fotis was the teacher suspected of the groping and he was eventually dismissed after being caught masturbating in a car outside the school.

Paterson also wrote Fotis a positive reference when he left the school saying he was “enthusiastic for his job” and “meticulous in the standards he requires from students”.
He conceded the reference was “grossly inappropriate”.

I see that journalist and chronic bandana wearer Peter FitzSimons boarded at the school in the 1970s (and sent his sons there too - wait while I roll my eyes) and is rather incredulous as what is coming out of the inquiry too. 

It puts me in mind of the section of Evelyn Waugh's account of his early teaching career, and how an openly pederast teacher could move around, even getting better and better jobs - when he wasn't having to suddenly leave them in a hurry.   (You can read about it in this rather interesting account of visiting the former school where Waugh briefly taught.)

The difference is, Waugh was talking about the 1920's; this was going on at Knox in the late 1980's.

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