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Sex Abuse Student Advice

BLACKFRIARS Priory School is taking the unusual step of contacting former students who were sexually abused by two teachers and inviting them to discuss counselling and compensation.
In contrast to other organisations recently faced with similar scenarios, Blackfriars principal Dr Paul Hine has moved to ensure victims are helped to avoid prolonging suffering.
The school has written to the 14 victims of former teachers Ronald Hopkins and Stephen Stockdale-Hall, advising them the school wishes to discuss how they can "move forward and also consider (in appropriate circumstances) financial reparation".
"We believe this is the appropriate way forward, rather than waiting for victims to make contact with us," Dr Hine said yesterday.
"It is our genuine hope that we can now assist victims in a way that will enable them to move ahead and experience some solace and healing into the future.
"I appreciate that we may not be able to satisfy the needs of all victims, but we are committed to doing the very best we can".
The move is the latest of several initiatives taken by the school since the abuse cases were discovered last year.
They include the school publicly "outing" itself and revealing the abuse had occurred and establishing a hotline for victims and the school community to seek advice.
Dr Hine said he had spoken with one victim and he was not interested in anything from the school, other than being "able to walk back into it" and feel comfortable.
"I am not sure what is going to come forward from what we are doing, but hopefully we can assist these people to move forward with their lives as quickly as possible," he said. "We won't be able to satisfy everyone, but we just can't sit here and do nothing".
Both Hopkins and Stockdale-Hall have pleaded guilty to abusing students and are awaiting sentence. Hopkins, 69, of Flagstaff Hill, has pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful sexual intercourse by a teacher, five of indecent assault and one of gross indecency, involving five boys aged 12 to 16 between 1975 and 1991. Hopkins worked as a lay teacher at Blackfriars in 1983. He resigned in late 1991 on the day a student made allegations against him. Stockdale-Hall, 56, of Medindie, has pleaded guilty to 10 charges committed between 1977 and 1989 involved nine boys between eight and 16.
He had worked at Blackfriars between 1975 and 1978 and continued his association with the school through camps and expeditions where the majority of the offences occurred.

AAP (14-11-2005)
Nigel Hunt

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