Andrew Bolt — the conservative newspaper columnist and TV host who has chosen defending convicted pedophile George Pell as a hill to die on — has now been accused of defending convicted child sex offender Peter Kehoe.
On The Bolt Report on Tuesday night, he referred to Kehoe by saying that “a man, who was an ex-teacher, hit on a boy… no sex occurred.”
Kehoe, a highschool athletics coach at Melbourne’s elite St Kevin’s College, was convicted in 2015 of grooming a child under the age of 16 and placed on the sex offender register. The child was a student under his duty of care.
The Four Corners reporter who helped expose the school’s culture of coverups and toxic behavior, Louise Milligan, called Bolt out on social media.
Like most Australians, I never watch @SkyNewsAust after dark, but I hear convicted child sex offender defender Andrew Bolt with Gerard Henderson tonight said Kehoe only “hit on” #StKevins student Paris Street. Really, Paul Whittaker? You OK with this? As a parent & old colleague?
— Louise Milligan (@Milliganreports) February 18, 2020
Bolt retaliated on his Herald Sun blog, claiming that Milligan had mischaracterised his segment and taken quotes out of context.
“I said Kehoe ‘groomed’ the student, and also ‘hit on’ him,” he wrote.
“Is that not true? I also said he’d been convicted, and at no stage did I – or would I – defend what he had done or criticise the sentence he received.
“What I said was that Milligan had been unfair to the principal of St Kevin’s and mischaracterised what he’d done by providing what she described as a ‘character reference’ to the court that (rightly) convicted Kehoe.”
During the segment, conservative commentator Gerard Henderson also added that there had been “a terrible pile-on against St Kevin’s within the ABC tradition of attacking Catholic institutions.” St Kevin’s College had been in the media spotlight after the ABC reported that its headmaster had provided a character reference for Kehoe in court.
On Wednesday, St Kevin’s principal Stephen Russell announced his resignation in a letter to parents, citing the “current situation” as a reason.
Sleeping Giants Oz has long campaigned for advertisers to move away from outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch, including Sky News Australia, where The Bolt Report airs. The movement tweeted: “Where is the compassion for the child?”
Other journalists also slammed Bolt and defended Milligan’s reporting.
How DARE Andrew Bolt suggest @Milliganreports job is at stake if Pell wins his appeal. How dare he make such suggestions and run hit jobs on reporters just doing their jobs. Last year he ran a TV and newspaper hit job on me. Again, I ask, what is his motivation?
— Lucie Morris-Marr (@luciemorrismarr) February 19, 2020
It’s fascinating when a convicted racist Andrew Bolt attacks me. Where do these people get off? Next he’ll be defending convicted pedophiles.
— Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno) February 18, 2020
I've head many awful things in my time as a journalist but this made me gag. I have two teenage sons – and Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson appear to be defending a teacher's right to "hit on" them. They should not be on the air. https://t.co/t8NjHb7dEM
— Christine Jackman (@ChristineJackmn) February 19, 2020
Help is available.
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If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800
Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.
Image: The Bolt Report