Suicides after sexual abuse at northern NSW boarding school

St Johns in Woodlawn

At least seven former pupils of a Catholic boarding school in NSW have killed themselves while allegations of sexual abuse have led to one former teacher being convicted this month, with another to face court this week, reports The Australian.

St John’s College in Woodlawn, near Lismore in northern NSW, has posted a statement on the school’s website, saying the school and the Marist Fathers apologise “without reservation for any hurt or harm suffered by former students who were in their care.”

The former discipline master of the school, Richard O’Connor, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a series of sexual ­assaults during the late 1970s and 80s. Another former teacher will face Lismore District Court on Wednesday after being charged with about 40 offences on 10 former pupils of the school.

The teacher to face court later became principal of St Teresa’s College, a boarding school in Abergowrie, in far north Queensland, where many of the pupils came from remote Aboriginal communities across the State. While in that role, he employed a former pupil from the NSW school, who was himself subsequently charged with sexual abuse.

At the time both teachers were working at the Lismore school, it was run by the Marist Fathers Catholic order and provided boarding places to several hundred high-school boys from rural communities.

Seven former pupils who were taught there during the period O’Connor was offending have since committed suicide, with friends, family, and police linking at least three of these deaths ­directly to his abuse.

O’Connor, who is now 75, was this month sentenced to 10 years in prison with a non-parole ­period of 6½ years. At least one of his victims has also reported what took place to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

FULL STORY Seven suicides after sexual abuse at NSW Catholic school

Apology from school to victims of former teacher

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