New concerns over St Kevin’s College

The Catholic boys school’s deputy principal Janet Canny has been asked to stand down, following a teacher’s claim that Ms Canny mishandled a complaint over inappropriate sexual conduct of a teacher towards a student.

A letter from St Kevin’s was sent to the school community this morning, stating Ms Canny “strongly refutes these allegations”.

It comes following the resignation of the Catholic boys schools’ headmaster and the school’s dean of sport being stood down, after a damning report and several news stories about a culture of toxic masculinity at the prestigious Melbourne private school.

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Four Corners journalist Louise Milligan helped break the story on Monday night that headmaster Stephen Russell wrote a glowing reference for child sex offender Peter Kehoe, who once worked as dean of sport at the Toorak Catholic school.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn confirmed it was acting for Ms Keel in a matter under the Fair Work Act.

“Ms Keel alleges she was mistreated after raising concerns about the behaviour of a St Kevin’s staff member,” a Maurice Blackburn spokesman told AAP.

The ABC reported on Wednesday that St Kevin’s allegedly responded inappropriately to a complaint that Ms Keel made about inappropriate sexual conduct by a teacher in 2019.

Ms Canny allegedly told Ms Keel she was being “disloyal to St Kevin’s College”, ABC said.

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Former St Kevin’s teacher Peter Kehoe was convicted of grooming a student.Source:Supplied

These new accusations came on Wednesday evening, following the resignation of the school’s headmaster Stephen Russell over the handling of the child-grooming case.

Mr Russell had been under pressure, after it was revealed that both he and dean of sport, Luke Travers, provided character references to a court for former volunteer athletics coach Peter Kehoe.

As revealed on Four Corners, Kehoe – himself an old boy – groomed the student when he was in year nine, making lewd comments and sending revolting messages via social media before the police became involved.

The now-convicted child sex offender was sentenced to a community corrections order for one count of grooming a child under the age of 16. He was also placed on the sex offenders register for eight years.

The case was not made public at the time of Kehoe’s offending because the student was a juvenile.

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After the show, Mr Russell expressed “sincere regret” for backing a colleague over a student.

“In the same circumstances today, I would not provide a reference,” he wrote in a statement to the ABC. Yesterday, Mr Russell took that one step further by standing down.

“In my time at St Kevin’s I have always tried to put the school before self and the students’ wellbeing at the very top of my list of priorities,” Mr Russell wrote in a resignation letter tweeted by Milligan.

“I believe the current situation means that the best way to this is to resign.”

A spokesman for St Kevin’s said Mr Russell’s resignation was effective immediately, and he would be replaced by current St Patrick’s College, Ballarat principal John Crowley.

Stephen Russell has resigned as headmaster at St Kevin’s College. Picture: Supplied

Stephen Russell has resigned as headmaster at St Kevin’s College. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

The student’s lawyer, Judy Courtin, said the removal of senior staff at the prominent Catholic school showed a “shift in the power base” between victims and institutions.

“Power was in institutions,” she told AAP. “This shows survivors are not willing to give up.”

Dr Courtin said it was upsetting that it took a lengthy legal process, a conviction and the shaming of a student for action to be taken, adding “the truth should have been acknowledged and acted on from day one”.

– with AAP


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