Pupil sex payouts loom
Lawyers circle as police probe 1980s abuse
THE NSW government is negotiating potential compensation payments to women who, as teenagers in the 1980s, were preyed upon by teachers at high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn is acting for several women who claim they were victims of a local culture at the time in which school officials turned a blind eye to male teachers having sexual relationships with girls in their classes. The culture was exposed in the podcast series, The Teacher’s Pet, which focuses on the mysterious 1982 disappearance of Lyn Dawson, whose husband, Chris, moved his schoolgirl lover into his home.
The Herald Sun understands at least one of several claimants went to Cromer High — the school where Dawson had an affair with pupil Joanne Curtis, then 16.
“We have received instructions in several matters arising from historical abuse in high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches,” lawyer Danielle De Paoli said yesterday.
“We have been corresponding with the Department of Education … and are now awaiting a response prior to filing any formal claims in court.”
Maurice Blackburn declined to comment on the damages sought, but legal experts said it could range from $100,000 to $1 million each.
A NSW Police investigation is focusing on three northern beaches high schools: Cromer, Forest and Beacon Hill. It is believed the claimants represented by Maurice Blackburn are connected with the matters NSW Police are investigating.
Students of Cromer High in the 1980s said they hoped the Education Department would compensate victims.
Jane Muir, 53, who was school captain in 1983, said a number of teachers besides Chris Dawson had made advances to students.
She said one PE teacher in particular had made advances towards girls, including herself. “It was a culture where teachers and the students mixed quite readily … there was a lot of under-age drinking, and we saw them at parties,” she said. “I was grabbed by a male teacher I was babysitting for. He tried to kiss me, and I rejected it.”
A department spokesman said it was relying on detectives to investigate, and was assisting the police inquiry.