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Knox Grammar Sued for Child Sexual Abuse

To read the original article published in The Australian newspaper and written by Olivia Caisley, please click here.

Knox Faces Payout Claim

Our client, Phillip Ashworth, spoke to The Australian about what he asserts happened to him as a student at Knox Grammar.

Phillip’s statement of claim alleges:

Nisbett used his position of authority to groom Mr Ashworth by regularly spending “private time” with him when he was a boarder, telling him he was his friend, giving him special privileges and plying him with alcohol” ¹.

Our client outlines in his statement of claim that “Nisbett told Mr Ashworth it was acceptable for him to engage in sexual acts with other children while he looked on and further that Nisbett used the meetings as an opportunity to direct their client to masturbate in front of the teacher and perform oral sex on Nisbett and other children at the school” ².

Withholding of Information

After pleading guilty to committing acts of indecency on three Knox students, Mr Nisbett has since left Australia. Furthermore it appears that Mr Nisbett now lives and we understand is working with children in Namibia. Also, we understand that despite past convictions for child abuse there are now four (4) further complaints that the police are investigating. We ask why has Nisbett not been brought to justice in Australia to account for his further serious abuses of school children.

Importantly, The Australian article raises the role of the well-known Headmaster at the time, Dr Ian Paterson. Similarly, the article makes the point that Paterson was found to have “deliberately withheld information” ³ from a police officer.

The officer was investigating sex abuse allegations at the school. Additionally it was found that “Dr Ian Paterson failed to notify the parents of the alleged child victims. Dr Ian Paterson also failed to notify the Knox Grammar school council” ⁴. Our client asserts that Dr Paterson knew Nisbett had inappropriately touched children at the School. In any case they did not take appropriate action.

The police investigations did not result in charges against Dr Paterson for his conduct at the school.

We argue on behalf of our client that Knox was motivated by a desire to protect its own financial and reputational interests. This over and above those of the children. Knox had assumed this duty of care in exchange for substantial fees.


Knox Grammar and its lawyers continue to defend the matter and deny liability.

Ross Koffel, Principal Lawyer of Koffels Solicitors & Barristers said to The Australian,

Phillip is struggling to accept the total denial of liability for the actions of the …staff members at Knox and it is having a serious effect upon him” ⁵

In any case, Phillip’s story is just one story amongst dozens of complaints and actions against Knox Grammar. Surprisingly these stem from a series of assaults committed by many staff members during the 1970s and 1980s. Years on, previous students continue to come forward. Undeniably Phillip is an incredibly brave individual to come forward and speak openly about what happened to him. We consider it humbling to have the privilege to act for him.

Koffels Solicitors & Barristers have made substantial headway into providing support and compensation for those individuals who have suffered through sexual abuse. Due to the fact we are working with victims on a regular basis, we see first hand and understand the incredible impact that this abuse has on the life of an individual.

In many cases the offences were brought to the attention of superiors yet no action was taken against these predators. The very real difficulties in life that have arisen as a direct result of the abuse will form part of the compensation that we will seek on your behalf. For a private and confidential conversation with Mr Koffel to discuss your experience and the possibility of a claim, please contact us using our secure and private online form here or call Ross on his mobile on 0412 392 980.


  1. Olivia Caisley, ‘Ex-pupil Sues Elite School for Abuse’, The Australian (online and print), 10 April 2019 <>.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Olivia Caisley, ‘Ex-pupil Sues Elite School for Abuse’, The Australian (online and print), 10 April 2019 <>.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.

To read the original article published in The Australian newspaper and written by Olivia Caisley, please click here.

2 replies to Knox Grammar Sued for Child Sexual Abuse

  1. Well done! I went to Knox in that era, and had nisbett as a teacher in year 8. It was well known he was a bit dodgy and that he’d been removed as cadet master as a result

  2. Maybe if Knox just admitted Patterson and Nisbetts doings , they would be considered more honourable amongst the community , instead of ringing people like me to apologise , it was well known in school whilst i was at Knox of my trouble with nisbett , ie fracturing his eye socket and constantly running from him , whether it be at school or camp Knox , he is a predator and Patterson enabled him , IT IS TIME WE ALL STOOD UP AND MAKE THEM LISTEN , lets join forces.

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