Koffels act in claim against Church over Inaction on Victims of Sexual Abuse

The Sydney Morning Herald

Broadcast:18-19 September 2010

Knox Grammar School where four teachers molested young boys, is being sued for more than $ 1 million over claims it neglected its duty of care to one alleged victim.

In documents filed in the Supreme Court, a 40 year old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons accused the North Shore private school of failing to provided a safe environment to ensure “he was not exposed to the risk of sexual predation by teachers”.

He claimed Knox failed to investigate complaints of abuse and was vicariously liable for some teachers conduct.

Five former teachers have been charged with child sex offences dating back to the 1970’s and 80’s Of those, four have acknowledged guilt. Adrian John Nisbett 61, yesterday admitted to indecently assaulting three boys then aged 16 and 17.

The man suing the school states that when he was in years 5 and 6, a teacher twice groped his genitals in public. In the first instance another teacher was watching but did nothing, he said in a statement of claim.

His claim stated: “[The teacher] demonstrated to the school community a ….tendency to inappropriately touch students by purporting to tuck their shirts into their trousers, fondling and by other means as opportunity presented.”

The man is now a disability pensioner living with depression caused, he said by the depression caused, he said by the damage and injury he suffered as a result of the alleged assaults. He believes the school knew what the teachers were doing.

“Their conduct was not in any way circumscribed or curtailed by the first defendant [Knox] despite its…nature and even when observed by other staff members,” he alleged.

His total claim against the school and one former teacher is expected to amount to more than $1 million.

“It takes courage for our client to pursue his rights against the school and the teacher directly involved, “Ross Koffel, the director of the law firm Koffels, said. Former Knox teachers Craig Howard Treloar, Damien Peirs Vance and Roger Warren James have already admitted to offences against boys.

Yesterday, Nisbett acknowledged he indecently assaulted three Knox senor school boys in 1986 and 1976.

In the District Court in Sydney, he agreed he invited one of the victims, then 17, to a photographic darkroom and moved his “elbow up and down and in a circular motion on the victims genitals”. In the same year 1986 the then boarding master and English teacher used his left elbow to rub a 16 year old’s groin area for up to one minute.

A decade earlier, Nisbett targeted a 16 years boarder in his office on evening. They discussed self defence moves and Nisbett stood behind him, “put his arm gently around him, “put his arm gently around his neck and pushed his groin into the victim’s buttocks. The victim felt something hard”, according to a court document.

Nisbett then moved to the boy’s front and held his genitals through clothes, in a cupping motion saying: “What would you do if I grabbed you like this?””

Nisbett pleaded guilty to two counts of indenct assault, carrying a maximum imprisonment of four years. He admitted to a third offence, which will be taken into account at his sentencing next month.

A fifth former teacher, Barrie Tiffin Stewart, is expected to face a committal hearing this month. Knox did not reply to the Heralad’s request for comments