Port Pirie woman "lost everything" to expose Catholic teacher sex abuse

A former education support officer at a Port Pirie Catholic College in South Australia says she was forced to resign in order to expose sexual abuse allegations that had not been referred to police.

The Advertiser reports that Jenny Christall, a former education support officer at Port Pirie's St Mark's College, said she had been ignored when she told the school and Catholic authorities about sex abuse being perpetrated by religious education teacher Sunil Francis Clark, 33, in 2001.

Three years later, she had been forced to quit her job to circumvent a workplace confidentiality agreement and expose Mr Clark's abuse, because no one had referred the matter to police.

In the District Court on Friday, Mr Clark was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, with a non-parole period of three years, after admitting having sex with two schoolgirls.

Mrs Christall was the first person to alert the school and Port Pirie diocese to the abuse.

She told The Advertiser she had "lost everything" after coming forward and had been banned from teaching at more than 100 Catholic schools in SA.

"All this was ever about was getting Mr Clark unable to have contact with kids anymore," she said.

A statement released by Catholic Education Port Pirie said: "The Catholic Church in South Australia continually reminds its community that if anyone has information or suspicions about criminal or other inappropriate behaviour by any church personnel they should provide that information directly to the South Australian police without delay."

The court heard that Mr Clark, a deeply religious man who once trained to become a priest, engaged in sexual acts with the girls at his house and in classrooms, which Judge Wayne Chivell said constituted "sexual exploitation" of the girls.

Outside court, the father of one of the victims said he hoped they could now move on with their lives.

"There's still a bit to go - our girls still have issues that need to be addressed but we will take what steps necessary to make sure it gets to closure," he said.

Woman lost job to act over abuse (The Advertiser, 15/7/06)
Teacher jailed for sex with students (ABC News 14/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Mark's College, Port Pirie

New claims of sex abuse from South Australia (CathNews 26/7/04)

17 Jul 2006