News

Former Gladstone principal jailed for sexual assault

A FORMER principal of the Gladstone Catholic high school now known as Chanel College has been jailed for sexually assaulting a student - and new alleged victims are coming forward now the case has hit the headlines.

Brother John Dennis Maguire was principal at the Gladstone school between 1975-1977 when it was operated by Marist Brothers.

Last week he was jailed for sexually assaulting a student at a prestigious Sydney Catholic college.

He moved to Sydney from Gladstone and the incidents happened shortly after. Chanel College yesterday distanced itself from Brother Maguire, and urged anyone with any evidence against him to report their experiences to police.

At least five members of the public had contacted The Observer last night after we started asking questions about his background.

A letter, sent out to parents and members of the Chanel College community late yesterday in the wake of those inquiries is printed below.

In the letter, the college moved to assure parents the school would have measures in place "to respond to any pastoral issues that could arise of these crimes against children being committed by a former principal of our college".

"Following a media inquiry earlier today, I have become aware that a former principal of Gladstone Catholic High School, Brother John Maguire, was found guilty of indecent assault and sentenced to a custodial term," wrote current principal Sharon Volp.

"Any situation involved the abuse of children is profoundly distressing."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Brother Maguire, who worked in Sydney from 1978 to 1986, hung his head as he was sentenced to a minimum sentence of one year and nine months jail for six separate assaults on an 11-year-old boy in 1983 while he was employed as the boy's dorm master at St Joseph's Catholic College.

The paper reported Brother Maguire was first charged in 2002. Last week he was sent to jail after nine separate trials spanning 13 years, and more than 30 years after the abuse took place.

He was found guilty in only one of those trials, with rules in NSW meaning the juries did not know he faced a variety of charges against different boys.

The link to Gladstone has prompted former students of the school (known then as Stella Maris College) to come forward.

One, who studied under Maguire, said the actions of the former principal had tarnished her life. "He touched me in a sexually inappropriate manner.

He totally denied what happened and he tried to get me removed from the school," she said. The Observer has not named her as a potential victim of sexual abuse.

Another former student, who also contacted the Observer late yesterday, said he remembered Brother Maguire like it was yesterday.

"He never sexually assaulted me but he physically assaulted me," the man said. "I saw him touching up girls and punching boys."

Letter to members of Chanel College community:

DEAR parents and members of the Chanel College Community,

Following a media inquiry earlier today, I have become aware that a former principal of Gladstone Catholic High School, Brother John Maguire, was found guilty of indecent assault and sentenced to a custodial term.

The matters were unrelated to his time at Gladstone.

Br Maguire was principal of Gladstone Catholic High School (which for a period was called Stella Maris College and now Chanel College) between the years 1975-1977 when the college was staffed and operated by the Marist Brothers.

I am advised that at this time, the Marist Brothers had received no allegation against Br Maguire relating to his period at Gladstone Catholic High School.

The Marist Brothers urge any person with any evidence of criminal behaviour to contact the police.

You can report matters involving the sexual abuse of children to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to the Sexual Abuse of Children (www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au) or call the Royal Commission Support Line on 1800 099 340.

Like you, I find the abuse of children very upsetting and as your current college principal, I would like to assure you that we will have measures in place to respond to any pastoral issues that could arise in the school or wider community as a result of our community becoming aware of these crimes against children being committed by a former principal of our college.

Any situation involving the abuse of children is profoundly distressing.

Should you deem it appropriate to discuss the matter with your children and believe you may require some professional assistance and/or advice, please contact me and I will be able to direct you to the appropriate services.

Furthermore, I take this opportunity to reassure you that Catholic Education today has stringent protocols in place for the protection of children and that we co-operated openly and fully with police investigations and requests for information.

Should you at any time be concerned or have specific allegations about inappropriate behaviour by any individual associated with Catholic Education either currently or in the past, I encourage you to immediately refer the matter to the police and then please contact myself or the student protection officer for Catholic Education in this diocese, Ms Anne Czekanski.

If you require any further information with respect to this matter or any matter concerning our college, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Finally, I ask that you please keep all the college community in your thoughts and prayers at this distressing time.

Yours faithfully,

SHARON VOLP, principal

Topics:  chanel college editors picks sexual assault



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