The man accusing a King’s School chaplain of historical sexual abuse in Australia is a convicted criminal and former gang associate serving a lengthy jail term for trafficking A class drugs.
But his lawyer has indicated the man’s life was derailed by the abuse he allegedly suffered, sending him on a destructive path of addiction and mental health problems.
King’s School chaplain Father John Goodwin has taken leave from the exclusive Remuera boys school after legal proceedings were filed in Australia.
He “emphatically denies” the allegations and has indicated he will co-operate fully with the Australian proceedings.
The plaintiff, a man in his 30s, claims Goodwin abused him 20 years ago at the prestigious Hutchins School in Tasmania, where Goodwin was chaplain for 10 years before taking up the position at King’s in 2008.
He claims Goodwin told him God would punish him and his family if he spoke up about the alleged abuse.
The Herald can reveal the former pupil was jailed after being convicted of serious drug trafficking charges.
He was found guilty of participating in an organised criminal group which imported millions of dollars worth of illegal narcotics into Australia.
The crimes were detected by a joint investigation involving police, Customs and the Australian Border Protection Service, and the man sentenced to a lengthy term behind bars.
Supporters of Goodwin have contacted the Herald, saying he is innocent until proven guilty.
“Father John has an impeccable record and a huge amount of support from the King’s School community who know him to be a very good man,” one supporter wrote.
“He has a family too, all of whom are suffering in light of these allegations.
“We do not believe Father John to be capable of such heinous crime.”
Court documents obtained by the Herald show the plaintiff is suing the Christ College Trust and the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania for damages.
His lawyer, Angela Sdrinis, says her client suffered injury as a result of the alleged abuse.
He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, suffered poly substance abuse and suicidal ideation, the court documents claim.
Hutchins School implicated in historical abuse
Meanwhile, the Herald can reveal this is not the first sexual abuse scandal to rock Hutchins School.
The court documents allege other historical offending by different Hutchins teachers, and say the school “ought to have known that priests and teachers had sexually abused minors prior to 2001”.
The document alleges several Hutchins teachers were dismissed in the 1950s and 1960s for paedophilia and “an act of buggery” on a student.
They claim police attended the school in 1970 after receiving a report about a teacher engaging in “sexual misconduct with a minor”, and that the teacher subsequently resigned and left the country.
In 2014, four former pupils gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about their time at Hutchins School.
A lawyer assisting the commission said a former headmaster launched an investigation in the 1990s after an alleged victim reported historical abuse.
The headmaster’s report found at least three 1960s staff had “widespread reputations among some staff and senior management for showing an unhealthy interest in boys”, Australian media reported.
A lawyer for Hutchins School told the commission the school accepted that the fourformer students had been sexually abused by staff.
“I am also instructed that the current board wishes to apologise for the hurt and distress caused to each of them.”
Meanwhile, a letter to the Hutchins School community last week from headmaster Rob McEwan said sexual abuse was “an abhorrent crime” and the school took all such allegation seriously.
“While we aim for openness and transparency in our communications, the claim is yet to be investigated and as such I am unable to provide any additional information other than that we understand the then chaplain strongly denies all allegations.”
McEwan stressed that child safety was paramount at the school, which had rigorous processes relating to recruitment, auditing and complaints.
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