BY Louisa Rebgetz and Leonie Mellor.
The father of a former Brisbane Grammar School (BGS) student says he told the school’s principal in 1981 that his son had been sexually abused by a BGS counsellor, and that the principal’s first response had been to ask, “are you going to the police?”
During hearings in Brisbane yesterday, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard how former counsellor Kevin John Lynch abused students at the school during counselling sessions in his office.
Lynch worked at BGS in Spring Hill and at St Paul’s School in Bald Hills from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The inquiry has heard how Lynch used to hypnotise and molest boys.
He took his own life in 1997 after being charged with abusing a student at St Paul’s, having moved there after Grammar.
At today’s hearing, the father of a BGS ex-student said he had a meeting that lasted about five minutes with then school principal, Max Howell, after hearing Lynch had touched his son, a boarder, inappropriately.
The father, known as BQH, said he and his wife were told by their son that Lynch had put his hand down his trousers and, in their son’s words, “fiddled with my penis”.
BQH said upon hearing this, he said he and his wife made an appointment to see Mr Howell the next day and drove to Brisbane from a country town.
“We wanted to make sure that he was safe and that the interference would not happen again,” the father said.
“I advised [Mr Howell] that the master Lynch had been interfering with my son and I was not very happy with it.
“Mr Howell’s immediate reply to my surprise was not ‘that’s dreadful, whatever, whatever’ — his first words were, ‘are you going to go to the police?’
“Years later, my wife and I learned that the children of five other families known to us … were also abused by Lynch while students at Brisbane Grammar.”
However, Mr Howell swore in an affidavit, before he died in 2011, denying the account of BQH.
BQH was questioned today about whether there had been any other reason he would have arranged to meet with Mr Howell at that time.
BQH said he would not have driven “800 [kilometres] return journey if it wasn’t for a very specific reason”.
The court asked BQH: “Is it fair to say that the likelihood of you travelling all that way to raise the matter with Mr Howell and then forgetting somehow is just inconceivable?”