All through the scandal of child sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy many of us kept on pointing out that the media ignored the fact that child sexual abuse was widespread in the community and not only in Catholic schools.
The ABC was in the frontline of those hounding the Catholic Church to the exclusion of all other social sectors where child sexual abuse occurred. They ignored the state schools where it would have been reasonable to think that if there was abuse in Catholic schools it was probable one would find it in state schools to a similar degree. But, no, only Catholic religious sexually abuse children, don’t youse know?
Well, with poignant irony, an ABC reporter did some investigation and came up with a blockbuster report on the Victorian Education Department’s suppression of abuse cases.
What abominable hypocrites infest the ABC.
How the Victorian Education Department’s historical child sexual abuse scandal was hidden for decades
Posted Sun 27 Aug 2023
On June 27, 2019, the viewing areas of Melbourne’s County Court were a hive of nervous energy as Justice Gabriele Cannon arrived to deliver a sentence that would publicly account for the private sorrows of dozens of people in the room.
Slumped beside his defence counsel, a 78-year-old former primary school teacher who’d once sneered at his victims that they’d never be believed was now a diminished and defeated figure.
But it was not just the reputation of Vincent Henry Reynolds on trial that day.
The story presented of Reynolds’s career would soon be understood as a microcosm of the unravelling crisis of historical sexual abuse in the Victorian education system. It would reveal in granular detail the methods by which the Victorian Education Department had covered up the sexual abuse of children — methods that lawyers for survivors say have been identified in dozens of other cases.
The catchwords for Cannon’s sentencing remarks were succinct and compelling: “historical sexual offending”; “42 charges”; “38 child complainants”; “period of offending about 31 years”; “abuse of power”; “gross breach of trust”; “brazen and prolonged offending”; “systemic failures in duty of care”.
Yet as disturbing as the raw numbers were, they sold short the devastation wrought by Reynolds’s decades of rampant abuse of children placed in his care at government-run schools, reflecting only the reported cases of those who’d both survived their ordeals and mustered the strength to endure the justice system’s lengthy and often dispiriting delays.
One after the other, survivors stepped forward to read victim impact statements to the court.
“The Education Department knew he was a sick child abuser, knew that he preyed on kids, but they turned him loose on me and my classmates, and on lots of other kids in country Victoria,” one of them would later say.
Survivors who’d spent decades negotiating their traumas alone now gathered as a collective, participating in the unfortunately rare experience of personally witnessing the comeuppance of their abuser.
Many present had witnessed a trial of a very different kind almost 30 years earlier in Wangaratta, when Reynolds was convicted but not jailed for sexually abusing 14 of his students. That time, survivors were left dumbstruck when a magistrate levied a $16,000 fine on Reynolds — a price of little more than $1000 for each irrevocably damaged life.
This time, seven years from the commencement of the Victoria Police investigation that would finally put Vincent Reynolds behind bars, the verdict looked like justice: Cannon jailed Reynolds for 12 years with a minimum term of nine years. He was likely to die in prison.
“I hope you rot in there slowly, you bastard,” came a voice from among the onlookers.