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I saw Paterson grope girl, ex-student says

Dr Ian Paterson, former headmaster at Knox Grammar School, departs after giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney on Tuesday. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Dr Ian Paterson, former headmaster at Knox Grammar School, departs after giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney on Tuesday. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Annette Blackwell, AAP

A former student at Knox Grammar says he witnessed former headmaster Ian Paterson grope a 15-year-old school girl during a school musical rehearsal.

The student known as AUE, said he was in a joint school production of Guys and Dolls with Lucy Perry, then known as Lucy Schaffler in 1989, and he saw Ian Paterson touch her bottom, the child abuse royal commission heard.

In surprise evidence earlier this week Ms Perry, the CEO of a global women’s health company, said Dr Paterson had touched her on her bottom and genitals.

Dr Paterson has strenuously denied the allegation.

On Thursday AUE told the commission hearing into the elite Sydney boys’ school he saw Dr Paterson touch Ms Perry on the bottom ‘but I would not call it a pat, because his hand stayed there’.

He said he was 90 per cent sure at the time he had witnessed a sexual assault.

Brian Buggy, musical director at Knox for more than 20 years said he was at all rehearsals for Guys and Dolls and never saw Dr Paterson touch Ms Perry or any other student.

Mr Buggy said he had never seen Dr Paterson touch anyone inappropriately; it would be out of character.

In reply to David Lloyd, counsel assisting the commission, he said his eyes weren’t always on the stage.

In more harrowing evidence on Thursday a 23-year-old former student told how he tried to take his own life several times and was still in and out of psychiatric hospitals because of sexual abuse at the school.

The young man started at Knox when he was 10, the time he was first groped by teacher Craig Treolar.

His voice breaking, he said he was in Year 6 when Treolar digitally penetrated him.

He bled after that assault.

Treolar abused the young man 15 years after he had been allowed to return to the school after a six-month suspension for showing boys pornographic videos.

Treolar was arrested at the school and jailed in 2009.

The young man on Thursday spoke of his excitement when he started at Knox where his dad worked.

Treolar befriended him.

‘He had a bar fridge in his class room. He opened it and gave me a ginger beer’, the man said.

The former student said he became really scared after Treolar groped him and he saw the teacher molesting other boys.

‘The abuse I witnessed and suffered at Knox was horrible,’ he said.

‘It destroyed my chance at a normal education and I believe it has destroyed a lot of my life so far.

‘I wish I never went to Knox and knowing what I now know about Knox I am horrified that Treloar was still working at the school when I attended.’

He told the commission he was back in hospital last week because he was traumatised when he saw the current headmaster, John Weeks.

Mr Lloyd said retired supreme court judge and former chairman of the school council Morris Ireland would not be returning to the witness box because of medical concerns.

He also said Mr Ireland’s statement and evidence would be withdrawn.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse inquiry continues on Friday with Mr Paterson back in the witness box.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 


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