Nina Funnell writes on why institutions need to stop doing what they have been for decades – protecting the perpetrator.
Trigger warning: This article deals with sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.
When parents pack their children off to school each day, they take a small leap of faith. They trust that, in their absence, their children will be cared for and kept safe, and that teachers will do all they can to ensure that no harm befalls a child.
So imagine finding out that not only has your child been sexually abused by their teacher, but that on learning of that abuse, the school Headmaster allegedly decided to award the perpetrator- not the victim- a $64,000 payout.
For one Melbourne family, this is exactly the nightmare they have been living.
In an absolutely breathtaking case, it has been reported that Jonathan Harvey, a convicted paedophile and former teacher of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria was paid more than $64,000 in 2004 by the then headmaster, Nicholas Sampson, after Sampson allegedly heard reports of the paedophile’s misconduct relating to a student.
Harvey, who has since been convicted of 10 sexual offences and acts of gross indecency against a former student, told the Royal Commission that when headmaster Nicholas Sampson heard reports about his ‘misconduct’, he did not phone the police, but instead offered and paid the paedophile the sum of $64,000 in the hopes that Harvey would retire early, and that a formal complaint against the school (and accompanying scandal) might be avoided. (The school never contacted the police about the allegations, and it took the victim another two years to feel able to report to police).
To make matters worse, on his retirement, Jonathan Harvey also received a letter from headmaster Nicholas Sampson which commended him on his “outstanding” service to the school during the very period in which he sexually abused a student.