Pupil sex pay­outs loom

Lawyers cir­cle as po­lice probe 1980s abuse

Herald Sun - - NEWS - ANNABEL HEN­NESSY annabel.hen­[email protected]

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.

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