Betrayal of Trust: The Shocking Child Sexual Abuse at BoysTown, Queensland
BoysTown school was once known as Southport school, a prestigious Anglican boarding school for boys located on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Established in 1901 by Father Edward Leo Hayes, a Catholic Priest, the school was set up to be a calm and caring environment for disadvantaged boys.
When it was first established, it was set up in the Brisbane suburb of Wilston before moving to its location on the Gold Coast in 1917. It wasn’t until 1952 that BoysTown was renamed The Southport School and taken over by the Anglican Church.
It has a long and distinguished history of high-level academia and pastoral care. One of the key metrics for producing many notable alumni, including Olympic athletes, business leaders, and politicians.
But recent reports of abuse have come to light regarding BoysTown, tarnishing its long history of excellence in academics, sport, and the arts.
A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was conducted in 2016, revealing that many boys who attended BoysTown were subject to sexual abuse by its staff for a number of years. Since then, the school has apologised to the victims and their families, implemented new safeguarding measures, and offered compensation to survivors.
Despite the recent scandal, The Southport School remains committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for its students while upholding its values of integrity, respect, courage, and compassion.
Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse at BoysTown
In recent years, the school has been linked to historical allegations of sexual abuse, which have been the subject of multiple investigations and legal proceedings.
Allegations of sexual abuse at the Southport School date back to the 1960s and 1970s. In 2001, the school acknowledged that it had received allegations of abuse from former students and launched an internal investigation. The school subsequently apologized to victims of abuse and established a compensation scheme.
In 2016, a former teacher at the school, Kevin Lynch, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of students in the 1970s and 1980s. Lynch was a well-respected teacher at the school and had been appointed the head of the boarding house. It was during this position of authority and leadership that he was accused of abusing multiple boys.
Following Lynch’s arrest, other former students came forward with allegations of sexual abuse by other teachers and staff members at the school. In 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held a public hearing into the response of the Southport School to allegations of child sexual abuse. The hearing heard evidence from multiple victims of abuse and from school officials.
ABC reports found that “In 1978, government child-care officers raised concerns about severe beatings of children.”
Weaker boys were punished in “Friday night biff ups”, in which bigger boys were forced to keep punching them until the director told them to stop.
Internal documents from BoysTown showed another punishment was the “loss of privilege smokes”.
In an inquiry named The Forde Inquiry, 1999, BoysTown was found to still be violently punishing its boys in licenced residential care facilities. “The same year, Queensland police Taskforce Argos launched a three-year investigation, interviewing 120 staff and residents and charging two men with 48 offences.”
The Royal Commission found that the Southport School had failed to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse adequately and had allowed abusers to continue working at the school. The Commission made a range of recommendations for improvements to the school’s policies and procedures for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse.
The Royal Commission Conclusion on Abuse At BoysTown
The Royal Commission of Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was conducted in 2016 and concluded that there were numerous incidents of sexual abuse of boys by staff members at BoysTown School, now known as The Southport School, spanning several decades. The Commission found that the school had failed in its duty of care to protect its students and responded inadequately to reports of abuse. The Commission also found that there was a culture of secrecy and cover-up at the school, which had allowed the abuse to continue unchecked for many years.
In response to the Commission’s findings, The Southport School issued an apology to the victims and their families and implemented new safeguarding measures to ensure the safety of its students.
In 2019, the Southport School announced that it had settled a lawsuit with 34 former students who had alleged that they were sexually abused at the school. The settlement reportedly involved a payout of over $7 million to the victims.
In a report written by ABC.Net, the family that owned the land in BoysTown, the De La Salle Brothers had to pay out a much larger number:
By 2017, the trustees for the De La Salle Brothers reported paying out almost $27 million in response to 219 credible abuse claims — the highest number against any church institution in Australia and what a judge called “a Gulag right in our midst”.
It’s important to note that the allegations of sexual abuse at the Southport School are historical and do not reflect the current practices and policies of the school. The school has implemented a range of measures to improve its safeguarding and child protection practices, and it is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all its students.
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