Canberra college ex-principal under fire over failure to act

A former principal of Canberra's Daramalan College has been accused of failing to act after three teachers warned him over the practice of a teacher who took boys home for weekend visits.

The Australian reports that the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are considering whether its head of education should stand down following controversy over his former role as principal of a school that is now reeling from a pedophile scandal.

Fr Denis Uhr was principal of Canberra's Daramalan College from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, a period during which teacher Paul John Lyons later confessed to have indecently assaulted one boy and is now alleged to have abused others.

Earlier this month The Australian reported that three teachers at the school warned Fr Uhr from the late 1980s that they believed Lyons's practice of taking boys home for the weekend was not proper conduct for a teacher.

The three teachers have made clear they had no evidence at the time that Lyons was abusing boys, but felt the home visits were not good professional practice.

In the mid-1990s, one of the teachers, Dale Seaman, told Fr Uhr a laboratory technician had seen Lyons in the school lab with a boy over his lap, his pants down, with the teacher massaging his bottom.

As an independent school, Daramalan falls under the jurisdiction not of the Catholic Education Office but its order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

The head of the Australian branch of the order, Fr Tim Brennan, yesterday told The Australian that he was considering what action he would take in relation to Father Uhr's role as the order's director of education.

"I am aware that there has been some call for him to stand down," Fr Brennan said.

"That is a matter I am considering."

He added that he had this week spoken to Fr Uhr about the Lyons affair.

But Fr Brennan, who visited Daramalan this week, said he did not want to pre-judge Fr Uhr's actions.

Marist College accused

Meanwhile, the Canberra Times reports that two more former teachers at Marist College Canberra have been implicated in the widening scandal over the alleged sexual abuse of students.

One, a lay teacher, and the other, a Marist brother, have been accused by former students who have flooded a Canberra law firm with complaints since the weekend.

Neither former teacher has been named but the complaints are in response to a report in The Canberra Times on Saturday in which two former Marist College students expressed concern that former teacher Paul John Lyons could have sexually abused students at the school.

Lyons taught at Marist College Canberra in Pearce between 1975 and 1987.

Burnie ex-priest abuse trial

In another story, the ABC reports that a former Burnie, Tasmania, priest has been accused of using his popularity with students to sexually assault three youths.

71-year-old Roger Michael Bellemore has pleaded not guilty to three counts of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person under the age of 17.

The offences are alleged to have taken place while Bellemore was working as a priest at Burnie's Marist College in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Catholic order drawn into school pedophile scandal (News.com.au, 26/7/07)
Marist scandal: more accused (Canberra Times, 26/7/07)
Priest sex abuse trialschool pedophile scandal (ABC News, 26/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Canberra-Goulburn diocese
Daramalan College, Canberra
Daramalan College {Wikipedia}

Canberra bishop condemns "reprehensible" abuse, reassures parents (CathNews, 24/7/07)
Abuse allegations surface at second Canberra college (CathNews, 23/7/07)
More accusations against Canberra suicide teacher {CathNews, 12/7/07}

27 Jul 2007