St Kevin’s headmaster Stephen Russell has stood down after writing a character reference for a coach convicted of child grooming .
The headmaster of St Kevin’s college in Melbourne has resigned after it was revealed he wrote a character reference for a school’s athletic coach after he was convicted of grooming a student. In a letter to parents, headmaster Stephen Russell said he would resign immediately for the wellbeing of the school and students.
Former coach Peter Kehoe was convicted in 2015 for grooming then year 9 student Paris Street. According to the ABC when Kehoe was coaching Street, he sent him messages via Facebook which eventually escalated to the coach taking Street to his house and inviting him into his bed.
Russell and the school’s dean of sport, Luke Travers, came under fire after the ABC’s Four Corners program revealed Russell had provided a reference to Kehoe during sentencing, and Travers had provided a character reference before the trial.
Street’s lawyer, Judy Courtin, told ABC RN Breakfast on Wednesday that after the sentencing, Street was “forced” to have a meeting with Travers at the school, despite Travers being a friend of Kehoe. Courtin said Travers allegedly told Street in the meeting that he didn’t think he should have been convicted and would continue to be friends with Kehoe.
“That happened at school.”
Victorian education minister James Merlino has said the state’s education regulator, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, will review the school’s management of child abuse risks in the wake of the ABC report.
Courtin said she wasn’t convinced the review would recommend any changes.
“Here we have the Old Boys sticking by each other … Have all the policies you like, it doesn’t seem to stop this terrible culture that is psychiatrically harmful for the children.”
Why do we have this trail of those in power writing character references for convicted child abusers ? First former PM Tony Abbott wrote one for his seminary friend John Gerard Nestor, then former PM John Howard wrote one for George Pell, both knew they were convicted of child abuse and both wrote the character reference anyway.
It’s almost as though those in power don’t think child abuse is a serious crime, either that or they think their friendship is more important than protecting children and supporting child abuse survivors !
In a statement provided to the ABC last week, St Kevin’s College said Kehoe’s actions were “completely unacceptable” and strongly condemned. Kehoe was banned from entering the school after he was convicted.
Edmund Rice Education Australia, the governing body of St Kevin’s, said in a letter on Wednesday that Russell would be replaced by St Patrick’s College Ballarat principal John Crowley as acting headmaster for 2020. Travers was also formally stood down pending further investigations of issues raised in the ABC report.
The Catholic church has made a lot of big claims about cleaning up it’s act and ensuring child abuse would be taken seriously.
Sadly talk is cheap, and when it comes to the Catholic church their attitude is, and always has been, one of protecting the church above ALL else.
Several high ranking Archbishops including Brisbane’s have come out and said, they will never break the sanctity of the confessional, no matter what laws designed to protect children say. This shows the church’s arrogance and disdain for the laws made to protect children from abusers.
Those in power need a major attitude adjustment, particularly those in positions of power over children !
Anyone in power at a school or sporting club who believes it’s ok to write character references for convicted child abusers, needs to be removed from that position of power immediately !
Child grooming IS a crime ! Writing a character reference for a convicted child abuser IS also wrong !
Child abusers are NOT people of good character and do NOT deserve leniency for their crimes !