Exchange Students And Sexual Abuse
Rotary Student Rapes Kept Hidden
CHILD protection expert Professor Freda Briggs has launched a
scathing attack on Rotary, accusing the charitable organisation
of cover-up and inaction over the rape of school exchange students.
Professor Briggs, an honorary Rotarian, went public with her concerns
yesterday after three years of frustration with the organisation's
lack of interest.
She revealed four former Adelaide exchange students had approached her
asking for help with bringing to justice rapists who were either in host
families or fellow Rotarians.
The women were 15 and 16 years old at the time of the offences, with one,
Mary Galea, revealing her identity yesterday. Two others complained of
"Rotary assured me they were supposed to be acting on these
concerns – they have not," the professor said.
She said she had:
COMPLAINED to Rotary International General Secretary Ed Futa.
BEEN groomed by a rapist herself when she was a Rotary exchange
student in Belgium in the 1950s.
HELPED a seventh Adelaide exchange student who had been raped
while overseas with the Southern Cross organisation.
TRAVELLED to Japan in May to appeal for action to the 2004 Rotary
RECEIVED draft copies of Rotary district child protection policies
which were still totally inadequate.
Professor Briggs has joined forces with Britain's Chief Superintendent
of Avon and Somerset Police, Chris Gould, who has also campaigned for action.
In her own case, Professor Briggs was 19 when her Belgian host approached
her for sex 15 minutes after their first meeting.
The man told her he was being investigated by police over the rape of an
11-year-old girl he had hosted before her, but denied the charge.
Rotary International's youth exchange spokesman, John Wakefield, said
the organisation was taking the allegations very seriously and believed
Mrs Galea's claims. He also urged Professor Briggs to take the matter
to the police.
Rotary sponsors about 450-500 exchange students each year to foreign
countries with an equal number visiting Australia.