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Australia St Kevin's College leadership has questions to answer over grooming scandal, Premier says

05:35  18 february  2020
05:35  18 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

New claims of inappropriate behaviour by current St Kevin's teachers revealed

  New claims of inappropriate behaviour by current St Kevin's teachers revealed Four Corners can reveal a top Catholic school accused of a culture of cover-up has received reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour by several current teachers. St Kevin's College has gone into damage control after a Four Corners investigation revealed its Headmaster and Dean of Sport provided character evidence for a now-convicted child sex offender but did not support the victim during the court process. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.

Here’ s an overview of what we know so far about what prosecutors have called the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” This is the man at the center of what the Justice Department says is one of the biggest college admissions scandals in history.

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Daniel Andrews.© AAP Image Daniel Andrews. Victoria's education regulator is investigating whether St Kevin's College breached child safety standards in its response to the grooming of one of its students by an athletics coach, as calls grow for the school's principal to resign.

The ABC's Four Corners program revealed the headmaster of the Toorak private school, Stephen Russell, provided a character reference for Peter Kehoe in 2015 after the former coach's conviction for grooming the St Kevin's pupil.

The dean of sport at the college, Luke Travers, also gave character evidence for Kehoe.

The victim, Paris Street, was in Year 9 at the time of the offending and was just 15 when he gave evidence at the trial.

Private school headmaster pressured to resign amid abuse scandal

  Private school headmaster pressured to resign amid abuse scandal The headmaster of an elite Melbourne boys' school is under pressure to resign after giving a reference to a sports coach convicted of sexually grooming a Year 9 student. The scandal surrounding St Kevin's College was revealed on the ABC's Four Corners last night, sparking calls for headmaster Stephen Russell's resignation.Mr Russell admitted he made a mistake in providing the reference at the request of the convicted former coach Peter Kehoe, which was given to a court in 2015.

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Neither Mr Street nor his friend, Ned O'Brien, who also gave evidence, were contacted by the school in the lead-up to the case.

Four Corners also revealed the Catholic school has received reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour by several current teachers.

Education Minister James Merlino has confirmed the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) will open a review into the school's compliance with Ministerial Order 870, which relates to child safety standards.

The order requires schools, among other things, to develop procedures for responding to allegations of child abuse including grooming.

Under the order, the school's policies must include ways to "support or assist children who disclose child abuse, or are otherwise linked to suspected child abuse".

St Kevin's headmaster Stephen Russell resigns in wake of grooming scandal

  St Kevin's headmaster Stephen Russell resigns in wake of grooming scandal St Kevin's College head Stephen Russell has quit following a series of damaging reports of the Catholic school's handling of a child grooming case. Mr Russell issued a letter to parents and guardians on Wednesday, stating he had quit in the interests of the school and its students."In my time at St Kevin’s I have always tried to put the school before self and the students’ wellbeing at the very top of my list of priorities," he wrote."I believe the current situation means that the best way to achieve this is to resign."https://www.scribd.com/document/447688289/Resignation-letter More to come.

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"If I was a parent at that school I'd be concerned," Mr Merlino said.

"There's a reason we have introduced mandatory reporting, child-safe standards, respectful relationships in our schools," he said

"And that's because across all our institutions the days of covering up or supporting paedophiles are over."

'Hard to have confidence' in school's leadership: Premier

Earlier this morning, Premier Daniel Andrews said the school's leadership had "some very real questions to answer".

"It's one thing to say that you've got a zero-tolerance to child sexual abuse, to grooming, to any of this completely inappropriate behaviour. It's another thing to actually demonstrate that," he said.

"And I think St Kevin's and their leadership have got some very real questions to answer."

The college is overseen by Edmund Rice Education Australia, a national network of Catholic schools.

New allegation of inappropriate sexual conduct by St Kevin's teacher revealed in court action

  New allegation of inappropriate sexual conduct by St Kevin's teacher revealed in court action The Catholic boys school at the centre of a grooming scandal is facing fresh allegations it mishandled concerns of inappropriate sexual conduct by a teacher towards a student. The headmaster of St Kevin's College in Melbourne has resigned and the school's dean of sport has been stood down following a Four Corners investigation into the college's response to the grooming of a student by a former athletics coach.

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Mr Andrews said if St Kevin's was a state school, "I think it'd be hard to have confidence" in Mr Russell and Mr Travers.

"But they're not at a government school, they're at a Catholic school, and the board and Catholic Education can make their own judgements, and indeed parents can make their own judgements," he said.

"I think that every parent at that school has a right to be angry."

Several callers to ABC Radio Melbourne who identified themselves as parents of current students at the school said they were concerned by the report.

One caller, Richard from East Malvern, expressed his sympathies to Mr Street, but wanted to highlight that his family's experience with the school had been "really wonderful".

Melbourne writer Joel Deane, who graduated from St Kevin's in 1986, called for Mr Russell to resign in a public letter where he accused the school of behaving "more like a corporation than a community" in its handling of Mr Street's case.

"As such it has betrayed the interests of the teachers who work at the school, the families who have invested in the school and the students who have attended the school," Deane wrote.

New concerns over St Kevin's College

  New concerns over St Kevin's College Court action filed puts more pressure against St Kevin's College in Melbourne after the school's headmaster resigned following a child-grooming scandal. New concerns about St Kevin's College handling of a child-grooming case have been raised following a teacher's claim that she was pressured to remain silent.The Catholic boys school is set to undergo more scrutiny after Maree Keel alleged she was mistreated.Law firm Maurice Blackburn confirmed it was acting for Ms Keel in a matter under the Fair Work Act.

State Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien, who is the MP for the school's electorate of Malvern, said he had a lot to do with the school since he became the local member in 2006.

Mr O'Brien said he found the college to be "a very good school" but was disturbed by the allegations aired on Monday night.

"Clearly [Paris Street] was let down by … the school's response. I think the school needs to deal with that, I think that's a matter for the school," he said.

Mr O'Brien said Mr Russell, who he had met many times, had "serious questions to answer".

Headmaster's 'regret' over letter of reference

In a letter circulated to parents and guardians after the program aired on Monday night, Mr Russell said it was an error of judgement and he would not provide a reference "in the same circumstances today".

"I sincerely regret that I did so," he said.

"Prior to his reprehensible actions in 2014, Mr Kehoe had no prior charges, or any student or parent complaint of a sexual misconduct nature. He had made a contribution over 35 years.

"I was considering the interests of Paris Street as the victim of abhorrent conduct, and providing information to the Court for sentencing purposes only."

Mr Russell said the conduct of Mr Travers, the dean of sport, was "absolutely unacceptable", and said he attended Kehoe's trial without the knowledge and consent of the school.

Edmund Rice Education Australia is investigating one complaint by a teacher who alleges he was sexually harassed by a senior colleague.

The complaint was written last May, but St Kevin's only contacted the teacher in December when it began interviewing staff for the investigation.

Mr Russell said in the letter to parents: "The teacher concerned specifically requested that no action be taken and we confirmed this in writing. We said that if he wanted it pursued further in future, to come and meet with us again."

However, the Independent Education Union told Four Corners the teacher did not receive a response to his complaint in writing.

St Kevin's College announces child safety plans after 'serious mistakes' .
The new principal of Melbourne's St Kevin's College plans to implement additional child protection safeguards after the school's abuse scandal left student victims severely "wounded".Acting Principal John Crowley faced reporters today, announcing a review of the school's child protection policies and procedures, which would include the appointment of a Director of Safeguarding.

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