Elite school’s gag order for sex abuse compo
VICTIMS of horrific child sex abuse at the hands of paedophile teacher Kevin Lynch have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements to receive compensation payouts from Queensland's most expensive private school, Brisbane Grammar School.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the inner-city private school has quietly settled with "some 130 former students" abused by Lynch in the 1970s and '80s, and is in talks with 10 others.
Fifty-one of the matters have been settled since the royal commission in November 2015, and five have been settled since the national redress scheme launched in July last year.
The new detail comes after the school was named and shamed yesterday as one of more than 100 institutions that have failed to sign up to the national redress scheme, which does not require survivors to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Swimming Australia and St John Ambulance are among other major institutions yet to sign up, despite being at the centre of horrific stories of child sex abuse detailed in the royal commission.
The delay is preventing survivors from seeking redress payments of up to $150,000, as well as an official apology and counselling.
BGS headmaster Anthony Micallef wrote to parents yesterday after The Courier-Mail revealed the school was one of the institutions that had yet to join the redress scheme.
He said the school was still considering if it would join, and had until June 30, 2020, to decide.
Mr Micallef noted the school had already settled with "some 130 former students" in the past 19 years.
Lynch killed himself in 1997, a day after being charged over child sex offences.
"Since May 2000, the school has openly acknowledged the criminal abuse of students committed by Kevin Lynch," Mr Micallef said.
"We reiterate our unreserved apology for what occurred and acknowledge the pain and suffering of victims."
In the letter, provided to The Courier-Mail, Mr Micallef did not disclose the amounts former students had received but one man is seeking $800,000 in damages in a case still before the Supreme Court.
He told the court in October he had received a "pittance" settlement of $47,000 from the school in 2002 and an apology but no admission of liability.
It was revealed during the hearing that the school had made an initial pre-mediation offer of $150,000, but lowered the offer to $98,000 and then finally $47,000 during negotiations.
A date for the judgment has yet to be set.
Mr Micallef said there were important considerations to be taken into account before the school made its decision about the national redress scheme, but noted it would make a call "well before" the 2020 deadline.
In the meantime, the school would continue operating its own compensation scheme.
"The BGS scheme has, from the outset, been based on the same elements of redress ultimately recommended by the royal commission in 2015, including agreed compensation, unlimited counselling provided by independent specialists of the person's choice, as well as a personal, face-to-face apology from the chairman and the headmaster," Mr Micallef said.
The headmaster added the Department of Social Services had acknowledged the school had been acting in good faith to date, and was applying due consideration to joining the scheme.
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said it was the Federal Government's "strong view" that all institutions named in the royal commission should join the national redress scheme as soon as possible.
"In the instance of organisations not named in commission proceedings who think they may be subject to a claim, our strong view is that they should also enter the scheme for the sake of survivors," he told The Courier-Mail.
As of last month, just 51 survivors had received compensation since the national redress scheme opened in July, from the 2728 who signed up.
It is expected as many as 60,000 people will apply for compensation.