Catholic school denies sexual abuse responsibility

Lateline - 20/10/2008

Lateline investigates a Canberra Catholic school and its extraordinary legal defence that the body identifying itself as the owner is not responsible for protecting students from sexual abuse.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Tonight on Lateline we investigate a Canberra Catholic school and its extraordinary legal defence that its owners were not ultimately responsible for protecting its students from sexual abuse.

When it comes o to seeking Government funding the corporation known as the Trustees of the Marist Brothers has been happy to identify itself as the owner of the Canberra Marist College, and is listed as such on the register of non-government schools.

But now the Marist Brothers Trust is claiming in court that it did not operate the school and has no legal liability for duty of care for 30 former students who say they were victims of abuse.

Connor Duffy reports.

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: Even 20 years on, returning to the school where he spent much of his youth requires a great deal of personal bravery for this abuse victim.

His name is the subject of a suppression order, so we've identified him as 'Michael'.

'MICHAEL', ABUSE VICTIM: My classroom used to be on this corner, which is the year seven... it used to be here. It probably still is, and Brother Kostka's Office is outside that class door.

CONOR DUFFY: It was here as an 11-year-old that 'Michael' says he was abused by a teacher at the school, Brother Kostka, who is now in jail for abusing other students.

A year later, 'Michael' claims he was anally raped by another teacher, Paul Lyons, who has since committed suicide.

'MICHAEL': I got home and I had blood in my undies and stuff... I just remember... sorry.... Sitting on... I just remember sitting in the laundry trying to hide blood, sort of thing.

CONOR DUFFY: 'Michael' and dozens more former students are now taking legal action against the school.


Courtesy of Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline, 2008

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