Child abuse royal commission: ‘They called us liars’ – mother

A mother has emotionally recalled how a former St Paul’s School headmaster accused her, her son, and an alleged abuse victim of lying when they tried to raise complaints about a paedophile teacher.

The mother of two former students told the child abuse royal commission she organised a meeting with Gilbert Case within a week of hearing complaints her son’s friend was regularly “touched up” by music teacher Gregory Robert Knight under the guise of checking pockets for cigarettes.

The 70-year-old, known only as BRW, said the meeting was in the early part of 1984 but she was so affected by the conversation that her memory was still perfect.

“I’m still stinging from it, because I couldn’t do anything,” she said.

“It hurt. It hurt not to be listened to and it hurt to be standing there like a schoolkid.”

BRW said a Bishop Wicks and another school representative were also at the meeting. At the end of the meeting she said she asked the Bishop what he was going to do,

“There is nothing to be done because there is nothing going on,” she alleged he replied.

She said Knight remained at the school for two to six months after the complaint.

Using a document from the school dated the month before Knight’s dismissal, Mr Hunter suggested the mother’s complaint actually took place a few weeks before he left, rather than several months.

“No. It’s absolutely impossible. Stake my life on it,” she replied.

Another victim told the commission how Anglican Diocese of Brisbane Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall attempted to “bamboozle and intimidate” him when he took civil action against the church.

Dr Aspinall is due to give evidence later this week.

Knight was convicted of indecently dealing with the boy, BSG, in 2005 but on Monday his solicitor indicated the former music teacher continued to deny abusing him.

In 2008, BSG was granted permission to avoid the statute of limitations to bring a court action against the diocese, the state of South Australia, the SA department of education and former SA education minister Donald Hopgood but the case was eventually thrown out on appeal.

Before taking up his teaching post at St Paul’s in 1981, a South Australian government investigation found Knight guilty of “improper and disgraceful conduct” towards students in his care at Willunga High School.

Knight was allowed to resign from his position and given a positive reference before starting to teach in Queensland in 1980.

BSG told the royal commission he had almost died from drug addiction, attempted suicide multiple times, lost his wife and lost contact with his brother.

He said he probably wouldn’t have reached the point where he tried to take his own life if the church had dealt with his claims early on rather than saying, in a legal sense, “Bad luck mate, you’re too late”.

“It makes you wonder what does this church really stand for?”, he said.

“In my mind it is a beacon of deception and hypocrisy not a beacon of compassion and morality.

“The individuals at the top become rich and powerful by peddling fairy tales and false hope. “They feather their own nests, are drunk on power to the point they have lost touch with reality, they exemplify self service and self preservation.”