School failed boys: parent

THE parent of a boy who was sexually assaulted at Kinross Wolaroi School by former preparatory school principal and convicted paedophile John Kennett will lodge a submission to the Royal Commission on child sex abuse, claiming the school failed in its duty of care by covering up the former principal’s behaviour.

“There were people at the school who knew what was happening and they chose to cover up for the sake of the school’s name and to protect their image," the parent told the Central Western Daily.

“Their actions have caused untold damage to many lives.

“When I went to the school with my complaints there was something wrong that needed to be investigated with Mr Kennett I was told I was being hysterical and my complaints were vexatious.

“I now feel vindicated and am I going to put forward a submission to the Royal Commission?  Absolutely.”

Kennett, who taught at Orange Public School before taking on the role of principal of the preparatory school at Kinross Wolaroi School, was found guilty of 37 charges relating to the sexual and indecent assaults of 13 boys aged between nine and 12 in Orange between 1978 and 1986. He was  sentenced to jail in August 1998.

The parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the families of the boys who were students at Kinross Wolaroi School when the offences were perpetrated feel an overwhelming sense of guilt their children weren’t protected while at school.

“I am in touch with many of those boys today and many of them are really struggling,” the parent said.

“I was absolutely castigated when I complained, and the whole matter, including the court case, was a terrible time in our lives for our family,” the parent said

Several of the boys later sued Kinross Wolaroi School and the Uniting Church with the cases settled for an undisclosed sum.

A Uniting Church of Australia spokesman, which runs Kinross Wolaroi School, said the Uniting Church was committed to working openly and transparently with the Royal Commission announced by the federal government.

“We hope the Royal Commission will provide an opportunity for healing, justice and reconciliation for all those who have suffered,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Communities, which employed Kennett at Orange Public School, said the department was unable to provide information on whether Kennett was given references from the department when he moved to his new role at Kinross Wolaroi School.

“Staff who would have had responsibility for Mr Kennett at Orange Public School and investigated allegations which were notified to the department in 1996 are no longer DEC employees,” the spokesman said.

“It is important to note that since that time the DEC has introduced and regularly strengthened policies and is a recognised leader in child protection with all schools engaging in child protection strategies focusing on staff and students.”

The first of a series of charges against Kennett were laid in April 1996. Following his conviction in August 1998 he was sentenced to eight years' jail.

He was initially sent to the remand centre at Silverwater Jail before being moved to Bathurst Jail for several days and then on to Junee Correctional Centre.

He was found bashed to death in his cell on September 11, 1998.

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