true crime

Chris Dawson isn't the only person who might face charges in the wake of The Teacher's Pet.

The hugely popular Australian podcast, The Teacher’s Pet, exposed what many listeners considered to be an alleged case of unpunished murder.

Now that Chris Dawson has been charged over the 1982 death of his wife Lynette Dawson, righting an alleged wrong from 36 years ago may become its claim to long-lasting fame.

But the podcast by Australian journalist Hedley Thomas may end up having even more life-altering implications. Because Chris Dawson wasn’t the only person at Cromer High School who allegedly committed a crime.

The podcast reported a culture of male teachers, aged in their 20s and 30s, preying on female students and beginning sexual relationships with them.

Joanne Curtis with Chris and Lyn Dawson's daughters, Shanelle and Sherryn. Image: The Australian.

In NSW, it is against the law to have sex with someone under the age of 16 if the other person is more than two years older. But it is also an offence to have sex with someone aged 16 or 17 who is under your care, according to the New South Wales Crimes Act. The act specifically mentions teachers.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, the podcast's accounts of widespread teacher-student relationships prompted the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad to form Strike Force Southwood to investigate the allegations.

Allegations include that in 1970s and 80s a male teacher raped a female student, and that others boasted of having sex with students openly and supplying them with alcohol and drugs before making moves on them.

Former student Robyn Wheeler told The Australian that a group of six teachers allegedly "passed girls around like a bong at a beach party" in the 1980s.

She also alleged the teachers had sex with the group of girls aged 15, 16 and 17 "randomly, casually and knowing that, if caught, nobody was really going to do anything about it".

Wheeler described the teachers as "predators" who often plied the girls with "booze and pot", and said some of the girls appeared to be traumatised by their experience.

Helen Prideaux, meanwhile, told the newspaper that she had been attacked by a teacher in 1980 who offered her a lift home from the pub a group of students had been drinking at. The unnamed teacher groped her before she fled from his car and hid in the bushes, she said.

Prideaux said she spoke to a friend who had no such "lucky escape".

"One of those 'caring' male teachers raped her."

Joanne Curtis, who was hired by Chris Dawson as a 16-year-old to babysit for his and Lynette's two children, is perhaps most high-profile victim of the school's alleged culture of predatory behaviour

When 32-year-old Chris started a sexual relationship with his student, he invited her to move into his home shortly after his wife's disappearance.

At the moment, Chris and his wife's disappearance and alleged murder are attracting the bulk of the public's attention. But with an investigation by NSW police ongoing, there may be far more names to add to the list of men taken down by The Teacher's Pet. 

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