CALLS to have a public hearing into historic child sexual abuse which occurred at three Bathurst schools have gone unanswered.
Retired Bathurst journalist Terry Jones says “he can’t believe” the Royal Commission investigating Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will not hold an open public inquiry into any of the abuse which occurred at St Stanislaus’ College, The Scots School or All Saints’ College.
Prior to his 2012 retirement, Mr Jones covered court matters for the Western Advocate involving former staff from both St Stanislaus’ and All Saints’.
He said at the time, former St Stanislaus’ headmaster John Edwards opened his door “on every occasion” responding to media inquiries because “he wanted transparency”.
Mr Jones attended the Royal Commission’s meeting in Bathurst last year, thinking it would pave the way for a public hearing into abuse at local schools, but said the audience was told there would be no public inquiry into any of the sexual abuses at St Stanislaus’ College, Scots or All Saints’.
“I want to know what has been done,” he said.
Mr Jones said he also wants to know why Bathurst is any different to Geelong, Sydney and Newcastle where the commission had publicly exposed the perpetrators.
He said the lack of transparency over the Bathurst matters was an issue given Strike Force Belle, the police investigation into allegations of rampant paedophilia, was the largest historic case ever handled by the Department of Public Prosecutions.
“Bathurst had more perpetrators of child sexual abuse than Geelong Grammar, Knox in Sydney and Church of England Boys Society,” Mr Jones said.
“Yet they all held public hearings.”
A spokesperson for the Royal Commission said a significant consideration in deciding whether to hold a public hearing was whether there were ongoing criminal proceedings which could be prejudiced.
This remains the case with respect to further allegations of abuse in Bathurst and was a significant issue when deciding the Royal Commission’s public hearing schedule.
“Having regard to Royal Commission’s obligation to report by December 15, 2017 it is unlikely that Bathurst institutions will be the subject of a public hearing,” the spokesperson said.