Brisbane college under fire over rapist talk

A convicted rapist addressed students at Brisbane's Padua College recently although the college says it was not aware of the speaker's history at the time of his visit to the school.

The Courier-Mail reports that the State Government has threatened to withdraw $240,000 from a Catholic program after the Catholic boys' school Padua College allowed notorious rapist Robert John Fardon to address students.

A teacher of the school later wrote to Fardon thanking him for his "powerful message", according to the report.

The revelation was made by authorities on Friday at an emergency courtroom hearing aimed at getting Fardon, 58, back behind bars.

But Fardon was released back into the community despite an application by Attorney-General Kerry Shine for him to be kept in jail.

Outraged Corrective Services officials had no prior knowledge of Fardon's 4 May school visit and it is believed they were only informed in early June - when a formal censure was immediately issued to Fardon for the breach.

Government officials then wrote to Queensland Catholic Education, the Catholic Prison Ministry and Centrecare to express their alarm and warn them commercial arrangements with the Government were under review.

Fardon - released into the community by a court late last year on a strict supervision order that banned him from initiating contact with children under 16 - was arrested on Wednesday night after he was found in a car with another violent sex offender, Trevor Lewis Toms, 42.

They were found after an electronic monitoring device worn by Toms alerted authorities to an alleged curfew breach by Toms.

Fardon has spent almost 30 years in Queensland jails for serious sex offences against girls and women and was the first prisoner to be detained indefinitely under the state's controversial Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act introduced in 2003.

The identity of the Brisbane school was not revealed in court but The Courier-Mail says it confirmed it was Padua College.

Fardon's lawyer, Dan O'Gorman, SC, told the court the school visit was at the invitation of a Year 11 religious education teacher.

In a statement released last night, Padua College's acting rector Brett Harvey said Fardon's visit was part of an ongoing program organised with the Catholic Prisons Group.

He said Fardon was never alone with students, that the school was unaware of the nature of Fardon's crimes, and that the crimes were not discussed with students. Mr Harvey said the school would review procedures for checking on visitors.

Photo: Robert Fardon, disguised with a coat, leaves court on Friday

Rapist gives speech to pupils (Courier-Mail, 15/7/07)

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Padua College

16 Jul 2007