NSW Government secretly paid millions to victims of a teacher it admits was a paedophile

classroom school education childrenChild sexual abuser preys on indigenous boys in Dubbo and other towns including Bourke and Gilgandra

Since April 2018, the NSW Education Department has paid millions of dollars between 14 different indigenous male child sexual abuse victims from across western NSW. The majority of these victims attended schools in Dubbo, and the Department has openly admitted the children were abused by a paedophile teacher Cletus O’Connor.

O’Connor had climbed through the ranks as a teacher, principal and school inspector and had worked throughout the state between 1950s and 80s. During this time period, he systematically, abused and groomed young indigenous boys. These boys, now men, are still grappling with the abuse they endured, and are now suffering depression and addiction with an imprinted mistrust of white authority. 

During his reign teaching and inspecting schools, kids would compare stories about his explicit acts. To make matters worse, teachers in Bourke were aware of O’Connor taking students on overnight “excursions” as he travelled through the state while working as a school inspector.

NSW Education Department accepts responsibility for not acting on child sexual abuse by rogue teacher

Michael Waterhouse, as General Counsel for the NSW Education Department, accepted liability for the sexual abuse and acknowledged that the state was “responsible for the safety of children at school”. In one case, O’Connor began abusing an 11-year-old boy in Gilgandra after gaining the trust of the child’s family, including by driving him and others to Dubbo to buy school clothes, shoes and fast food. According to the victim and admissions made by the Department of Education during the settlement process, the abuse continued for about five years, until the boy was 16.

Teachers were reluctant to act on knowledge of his activities

It was evident that his role as school inspector gave him a sense of authority and power over other teachers. He was usually responsible for their futures in respect to promotions or more senior roles. This would have been an obvious disincentive for those employees to report suspect behaviour.

There were rumours circulating at the time about his child sexual abuse tendencies, but no one acted on those rumours by officially reported his activities. The cases raise significant concerns about the way the civil justice system operates for victims of child sexual abuse who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

These victims may never recover, but it is important to start the conversation and bring light to the dark issues that are still prevalent today.

If you have any questions regarding matters such as these which are to do with your own personal life or someone you know then please contact Peter O’Brien on 0406 155 358 or O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors on (02) 9261 4281.

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