School pays $1m to sex abuse victims
DAVID MURRAY. The Sunday Mail. Brisbane, Qld.:Nov 5, 2006. p. 29
BRISBANE Grammar School had to pay out more than $1 million from its own
coffers after allegedly ignoring warnings about a pedophile counsellor.
Documents obtained by The Sunday Mail show insurers refused to pay the entire
compensation bill for victims because of allegations former headmaster Max
Howell was twice warned about counsellor Kevin Lynch.
As a result, the prestigious school had to dip into its own funds, and is now
suing its insurance broker AON Risk Services Australia to recover the money.
Grammar says the broker failed to properly inform the school of its obligation
to report the claims.
AON Risk Services Australia has filed a defence denying liability.
A group of about 70 former students sued Grammar, alleging Lynch sexually
abused them during counselling sessions between 1975 and 1988. Students claimed
Lynch would typically molest boys after they had undressed, under the guise of
He committed suicide in 1997 after being charged with abusing a student at St
Paul's School at Bald Hills, in northern Brisbane, to which he moved after
Brisbane Grammar School started reaching confidential out-of- court settlements
with victims in 2003.
Documents lodged in the Supreme Court by the school in its case against the
insurance broker say Mr Howell was allegedly warned about Lynch. But Grammar
claims it was unaware the details had to be passed on to its insurer.
"It was alleged in or about 2002 on behalf of the former student plaintiffs
that the then-headmaster of the school had received two complaints (one in
about April 1980 and the other in or about winter 1981) identifying the conduct
of the said teacher/counsellor which gave rise to the claims," the documents
Grammar's insurers would cover only 90 per cent of payouts from 1980 and 70 per
cent of payouts from subsequent years because they were not informed of the
The school was left to pay $1.17 million to victims in compensation and legal
Compounding the financial burden, the school was unable to identify its
insurers between 1974 and 1978, and had to pay out almost $400,000 for claims
made in those years.
The school also accuses its broker of losing records that would have identified
its insurers during the 1970s.
Grammar board of trustees chairman Howard Stack said yesterday that Mr Howell
had denied he had been warned.
He said Grammar had borrowed to fund its payouts, rather than penalise present
students by selling assets or increasing fees.
The school had adopted an "open and transparent approach" and had provided
counselling, support and compensation to Lynch's victims.
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