Tuesday 23 January 2018

Boarding school followed 'correct procedures and requirements' over alleged sex assault, statement claims

A sign for Kings Hospital School where an alleged sexual assault took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 2/12/2016
A sign for Kings Hospital School where an alleged sexual assault took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 2/12/2016
A security guard speaks to a driver at the entrance to Kings Hospital School where an alleged sexual assault took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 2/12/2016
A sign for Kings Hospital School where an alleged sexual assault took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 2/12/2016
A sign for Kings Hospital School where an alleged sexual assault took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 2/12/2016

Eilish O’Regan and Cormac McQuinn

A top private school confirmed today that gardai and Tusla are investigating an incident which is alleged to have happened on its campus last Thursday.

The statement was issued by Kings Hospital school in Dublin after it was alleged a 13 year old boy was sexually assaulted by up to eight other boys.

Gardai are understood to be angry that the school failed to report the alleged incident to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency for four days. The guidelines state this should happen without delay.

In a statement today the school did not refer to any delay in making a report to Tusla.

However, it confirmed that An Garda Síochána and TUSLA are currently investigating an alleged incident.

It said: "We cannot make any statement which might prejudice those investigations.

“However, it is imperative that certain inaccuracies reported in the media which have caused understandable anxiety to parents of our pupils and to the wider public are corrected.

“The safety, health and welfare of the student concerned, and all students have from the very outset been and will continue to be the priority for every member of staff at The King's Hospital.”

It said the management and staff have actioned the correct procedures and requirements, including liaising with the appropriate agencies.

“We also ensured that the parents of the alleged victim and of the students allegedly involved were briefed as soon as possible.

“At no stage did the management and staff fail to act on legal advice," the statement added.

“Neither did the school seek advice from the State agencies by using hypothetical scenarios.”

It said the school will make not make any further comment until the investigations are complete.

It is understood that eight pupils have been suspended in the wake of the incident at the school where seven-day boarding fees can be as high as €16,000.

Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he'd be “very upset” if it turns out that allegations of a sexual assault at a Dublin school went unreported for several days.

Education minister Richard Bruton has already said he is “disturbed” by the allegstions.

Speaking in New York, Mr Kenny said: “I'd be very upset if that allegation [of a delay in reporting the alleged incident] is true.”

Mr Kenny added: “Clearly minister Bruton has expressed a serious concern about this. “I know that the authorities have now been informed – Tusla and the Gardaí."

He said that Mr Bruton is also "exceptionally distressed" at the allegations about what happened to the pupil involved.

"I do hope that the allegations that have been made are dealt with quickly and effectively by the authorities," Mr Kenny said.

"It wouldn't be for me to comment on the nature of the allegations until the authorities have carried out a full investigation of this," he added.

The Taoiseach said: "Ireland has very strong child security systems and that "children are central to government" with support for them "enshrined in the constitution".

Dr Ken Fennelly, who is the Secretary to the Board of Education at the Church of Ireland told RTÉ Drivetime on Friday night that the first heard of the alleged assault of the 13 year old boy earlier this week from a journalist who contacted him about it.

"Though I should put that into context; the school wouldn't be under any obligation to tell us - to tell me here.

"We in the Church of Ireland Board of Education, we're responsible as an advisory body for primary schools, not for secondary, and their obligation would be to the statutory authorities, not to us. In fact, it would have been a breach of procedure if they had told us anyway," he said.

"We had a role to make sure that nobody was in danger and that the statutory authorities had been notified."

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