Wednesday 31 August 2016

Paedophile teacher immortalised in school memorial with the words 'He touched us all'

Christopher Hooton

Published 24/02/2015 | 13:40

Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga, Sydney
Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga, Sydney

An elite boys' school in Sydney paid tribute to a teacher dubbed a "notorious molester" with an inscription on its memorial gates that read "he touched us all".

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Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga, Sydney, paid tribute to its former art teacher Bruce Barrett with the inappropriate memorial despite his convictions for sexually assaulting students during his time at the school.

Former Knox Grammar School student Scott Ashton told an Australia's royal commission he was deeply confused by the memorial at the school, which is subject of an investigation into its response to sexual abuse allegations.

The memorial inscription pays tribute to the predatory teacher who was convicted of five counts of indecent assault and two accounts of sexual assault in 2009.

Mr Ashton said that Mr Barrett was known to be a "notorious molester" but following his death, the school expected students to pay tribute to him.

The commission was told that students were made to attend his funeral and a memorial to him was inscribed on the school gates reading “He Touched Us All.”

It also heard allegations he, and other teachers at the schoo, invited former students to sex parties and offered to paid them up to €700 for sex.

"The fact that he was so well regarded by the school despite being a notorious molester made me feel very confused and powerless," said Mr Ashton.

"I felt ashamed of my abuse. I was deeply ashamed and unable to discuss it with anyone.

"It was an issue which I avoided because any reminder of it would cause me severe stress and interfered with my ability to function and cope on a day-to-day basis."

Mr Ashton alleged that Mr Barrett would chase and tickles his pupils, and used to announce "watch out boys, it's a read tie day" meaning he would be caning people.

The 44-year-old said that he was asked to stay behind after class by Barrett one day but instead of being caned was sexually assaulted.

Five former teachers at the prestigious school have been convicted of sexual assault, while the inquiry has heard allegations made against a further three members of staff.

Independent News Service

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