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School in shock as principal stood down

Parents in the Victoroian coastal town of Torquay were in shock yesterday after hearing that their Catholic primary school principal is being investigated for accessing child pornography over the internet.

The Age reports that the allegations against St Therese Primary School principal Terry Wescott hit the school community "like an earthquake", according parish priest Fr Greg Trythall.

Maria Kirkwood, assistant director of student wellbeing at the Catholic Education Office, said police had informed the office on Tuesday that Mr Wescott was under investigation. He has been stood down pending the outcome.

About 200 parents attended a special meeting at the Grossmans Road school on Tuesday night, where they were informed of the allegations.

Mr Wescott has been the principal for the past 16 years, in both administrative and teaching roles. The school has about 320 students.

While a computer hard drive had been seized from the school as a "natural precaution", Ms Kirkwood said it was unlikely school equipment or students had been involved in any alleged offences.

"The police have indicated to us that they seriously doubt that the children here have been involved. That is our firm belief as well."

Asked whether Mr Wescott would be reinstated if cleared of any crimes, Ms Kirkwood would not say. She denied the stance was any different to that being taken towards teacher Lachlan Wallin, 26, of St Simon's Primary School in Rowville, where the local priest has said he will not be reinstated, even if found not guilty.

School in shock as principal stood down (The Age 7/10/04)

Priest charged with sex abuse in Australia (Dallas Morning News 5/10/04)
Principal is suspended (The Mercury 7/10/04)
Call for checks on Catholic teachers (The Age 7/10/04)
Principal porn probe (Geelong Advertiser 6/10/04)
Church names Melbourne teacher in child pornography probe (CathNews 5/10/04)
Church names teacher in child pornography probe (The Age 5/10/04)
Register of all church employees (The Age 5/10/04)
Abbott caught on hop (Herald-Sun 2/10/04)
Pell denies Abbott swayed him on schools (Sydney Morning Herald 2/10/04)
John L. Allen: Irish church fails to develop child protection policies (National Catholic Reporter 1/10/04)
Catholic teachers nailed in child porn swoop (CathNews 1/10/04)
WA premier 'horrified' as scandal hits home (The Age/AAP 29/9/04)
Police lift lid on web of abuse (Sydney Morning Herald 1/10/04)

St Simon's Primary School, Rowville

7 Oct 2004