Child sex abuse: Detectives to meet with St Peter's School leadership

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Nov 2021, 1:31PM
(Photo / RNZ)
(Photo / RNZ)

Child sex abuse: Detectives to meet with St Peter's School leadership

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Nov 2021, 1:31PM

Detectives are to meet with the school leadership of a private Hamilton high school to discuss allegations of historical child abuse spanning almost five decades. 

St Peter's School trust board chairman John Macaskill-Smith yesterday acknowledged historical abuse and apologise to students who suffered at the hands of former staff. 

An investigation into files collected between 1936 and 1981 found 19 boys at the private Cambridge school suffered sexual, physical or emotional abuse in cases involving eight staff. 

Today police confirmed they have been in communication with the school following the statement issued yesterday. 

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said detectives will be meeting with the school leadership team to discuss the matters raised in the statement. 

"We encourage anyone who wants to speak to police in relation to matters raised in the school's statement to get in touch with us," Pitkethley said. 

"Any allegation of potential criminal offending will be thoroughly assessed and investigated by police. 

"We want everyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to know that there is help and support available." 

There are around 40 staff in the Waikato District Adult Sexual Assault and Child Protection Teams who are trained to investigation sexual assault allegations, Pitkethley said. 

Macaskill-Smith said most of the eight implicated staff were very old or dead, while the whereabouts of others is unknown. 

"We do know that a couple have been prosecuted for abuse while operating as teachers." 

He also encouraged other former students to also come forward. Survivors may be paid some compensation. 

After digging out the old files, psychologist Dr Suzanne Blackwell was asked to review all the information that had been gathered and how it had been handled. 

The review found that in some cases school leaders handled complaints appropriately, but in other cases perpetrators were not held to account. 

A confidential listening service has also been provided so former students can speak to trained psychologists. 

More information about sexual assault, how to report it and available support can be found on the police website. 

The apology comes after St Peter's made headlines earlier this year when its executive principal Dale Burden and his wife and executive principal Yvette Williams disappeared from the school at the end of term 1 following complaints to WorkSafe about bullying. 

Burden resigned at the end of May followed by the school's wellbeing director Micheal Brown who left in June. Williams resigned in August to do a PhD programme in education leadership.