Abuse  at top school until 2008
Picture: The West Australian

Parents who paid hefty fees to an exclusive Perth school found their sons had been molested by a teacher who had raised the suspicions of several colleagues, a royal commission will be told.

The prestigious independent school, which cannot be named because of a suppression order, will be the next target of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in public hearings this month.

Although the commission's current inquiry into Christian Brothers' orphanages is examining historical abuse from many decades ago, the school hearings from May 19 will focus on recent allegations that a teacher was allowed to prey on students, despite repeated warnings from other staff.

FULL COVERAGE - HOUSES OF HORROR

The 62-year-old teacher is serving a five-year jail term after being convicted of indecently dealing with five students between 1999 and 2008.

He denied the offences but was found guilty in 2010 and again, after an appeal, at a retrial two years later.

After he was sentenced in 2012, _The West Australian _ reported exclusively that the school was given repeated warnings about the Year 4 and 5 teacher's suspicious behaviour with boys of certain physical appearances.

One letter by a fellow teacher detailed the man's propensity to choose favoured students and even predicted which boys in coming years would become his favourites.

In the 2001 letter, she warned of the teacher's "unhealthy interest in one particular boy in his class each year" and named three boys.

All three became complainants in the District Court case.

"We need to know that the school is not only going to do what is necessary to protect its students and its reputation, but to build a reputation of integrity in all circumstances," she wrote, adding that parents "pay a lot of money" for the school to "have the very best interests of every child at heart".

The popular lay teacher got a formal warning about appropriate behaviour but was allowed to stay. He was warned in 2004, after teachers complained about incidents, including a boy sitting on his knee, and was allowed to stay until 2009, when a former student reported him to police.

One victim told the teacher's trial he felt he could not disclose the abuse to his hard-working parents because they had been so proud when he won a scholarship to the school they would not otherwise have been able to afford.

The school's headmaster yesterday sent a letter to the parents of prospective students saying that the school strongly supported the "mission and purpose" of the royal commission and had apologised unreservedly to the victims and their families.

The commission announced yesterday it would investigate the response of the school to the teachers' warnings, the response to his arrest, the management of victims' claims for compensation, policies in place relating to concerns of abuse and the registration of the school.

The West Australian

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