The principal of one of Sydney’s most elite private boys’ schools has said he was angry and saddened to hear about the ‘awful treatment’ of girls by some of his students.
Tony George, principal of The King’s School in Parramatta, wrote of his dismay at the allegations of sexual intimidation and violence against private school boys including King’s students in the latest school newsletter, The King’s Herald.
The allegations first emerged when former Kambala student Chanel Contos, 22, collected a series of testimonies and began an online petition to improve sex education in private schools.
The King’s School Principal Tony George wrote a letter to parents praising the courage of Chanel Contos and calling for action to prevent sex abuse – in particular to restrict alcohol
Pictured: Chanel Contos. More than 29,210 people had signed Ms Contos’ online petition as of Sunday night and 2,761 separate testimonies of abuse were uploaded
Thousands of schoolgirls have shared horrific tales of alleged rape and assault at the hands of teenage boys from Australia’s most elite schools with 2,759 separate testimonies uploaded.
More than 29,200 people had signed Ms Contos’ petition as of Sunday night.
It is understood that some of the allegations involved students of King’s, prompting Mr George to speak out in support of Ms Contos’ courageous effort.
‘As I read some of the girls’ stories, especially those who experienced such awful treatment by some of our King’s boys, I was dismayed, saddened and angry at the extent of this social disease in our society,’ he wrote in the newsletter supplied to 7News.
Ms Contos attended Kambala High School (pictured) which she has said gave her a ‘great consent education but they gave it too late’
Ms Contos (pictured) said many school-aged boys often didn’t even realise what they’d done constituted sexual assault. Thousands of people have since shared their stories
The King’s School is one of Sydney’s most expensive private schools with fees ranging from $22,983 for kindergarteners up to $38,284 for Year 12 domestic students.
After additional technology and meal fees are added, the cost rises to more than $40,000 for one Year 12 student.
Famous alumni of The King’s School include the King of Thailand Maha Vajiralongkorn, playwright Andrew Upton who married actress Cate Blanchett, and former deputy prime minister John Anderson.
More than $30.6million has been paid to 131 survivors who were assaulted before 1989 Pictured: Ms Contos who started the movement to improve sex education
Mr George said education would not be enough to solve the problem of sexual violence towards women and called for stricter approach to alcohol.
‘In my experience, children and alcohol don’t mix,’ Mr George wrote.
The principal noted that an adolescent boy would not be likely to remember sex education when drunk at a party and given the opportunity ‘to pursue his porn-filled imagination and desire’.
A Canberra woman said her parents did not believe her when she was allegedly gang raped
Mr George recommended a five-tiered approach involving parents, police and schools to help educate teenage boys on sexual consent.
The King’s School is just one of many schools mentioned in the allegations.
Nine private school principals spoke to Ms Contos about the issue on Zoom and have promised to audit their sexual consent programs, and to create safe school settings for male and female students to interact.
Thousands of schoolgirls have so far shared their stories of alleged rape and assault in the online petition.
Former Kambala High School student Ms Contos (pictured) wants school to teach consent to girls and boys in younger years
The harrowing stories revealed many alleged sexual assault victims blamed themselves for what happened – and only learned years later the truth about their experiences.
One student thought it was her fault she was allegedly raped in an Uber because she had agreed to share it with her alleged attacker, who went to a private school in Sydney.
Another girl told a harrowing story of being allegedly orally raped at age 15 by a Sydney Grammar boy but not telling anyone because she felt like she was being ‘over dramatic’.
A petition by former private schoolgirl Ms Contos (pictured right) has shown testimonies of thousands of students who did not know they had been assaulted, many blamed themselves
‘He took me into a room and I was heavily intoxicated. I was so sick I couldn’t sit up and I was lying down while he put his penis in my mouth,’ she said.
‘I was in and out of consciousness.
‘What shocks me the most is that I had no idea what to do or who to tell and felt that if I was to tell an adult I would be acting over dramatic. I was so confused about what happened and felt very powerless.’
A Canberra woman said her parents did not believe her when she told them about an alleged gang sexual assault that happened when she was only 15.
Disturbing stories of alleged rape and sexual assault have shown the lack of awareness of consent by young girls. Pictured: Chanel Contos started a petition to address rape culture
‘I was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party when I was 15 by two 18-year-old private school boys. I never went to the police because it had been drilled into my head that it was my fault for wearing what I wore and no one would believe me,’ she said.
‘When I finally told my parents the first question they asked was ”are you making this up?”‘
The testimonies come as government figures revealed school students were paid nearly $40million in compensation after being sexually assaulted over the past two decades.
New South Wales Department of Education figures showed the state government paid $9.4million to 40 survivors in 2019 after time limits on reporting sexual assaults were lifted three years earlier.
The total given to victims in 2019 is more than double the $4.4million paid in compensation in 2016 before the law was changed.
Three-quarters of the compensation paid in the last 20 years was given to 131 survivors who were assaulted before 1989.
SCHOOL RESPONSES TO THE PETITION
St Catherine’s School
Headmistress Dr Julie Townsend said the testimonials were ‘heartbreaking’.
‘It is clear from these girls’ testimonies that many of them have suffered in silence for years, and we need to ensure that, not only do they understand what assault is, but know their rights in reporting it and charging someone,’ she said.
Principal Shane Hogan said he will give information to parents about consent and respectful relationships.
‘[We are] commending the bravery of the young women to call out this behaviour and calling on any Kambala girls or old girls who have experienced this to contact us to access our on campus counselling support and support.’
Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Principal Jacinda Euler said ‘the accounts published are extremely distressing’.
‘They graphically highlight the need for us all to do more. There must be a determination to ensure that the stories of these girls and young women bring about urgent collaborative change,’ she said.
Principal Nicholas Sampson said schools ‘need to take further action’ and pledged to review of the school’s pastoral care, including holding mixed gender education programs.
‘All of us at Cranbrook need to be grateful for the courage of these young women in speaking out,’ he wrote, linking to the petition. ‘Society makes it very hard to raise issues of this type.’
Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview
Principal Dr Paul Hine said the school ‘fully supports’ the allegations against students being referred to the police.
‘Non-consensual sex is a crime and this message is given unequivocally to our students as part of their education,’ he said.
The Scots College
Dr Ian Lambert, wrote to parents and said the school would review its education programs.
‘It is a wake-up call for us all,’ he said. ‘They are to be commended for their bravery in standing up and speaking out.
Sexism is an everyday reality for women, and it absolutely should not be,’ Principal Graham Leddie said.
‘Often it’s the seemingly small acts that are overlooked, dismissed or ignored. “Boys will be boys”, shouldn’t mean what it does in Australian culture.’
Brisbane Boys College Brisbane
‘The content of the petition is concerning and a stark reminder of society’s collective responsibility to educate young men and women on the topic of consent,’ Headmaster Paul Brown said.