The principal of Melbourne’s St. Kevin’s College wrote a character reference for one of the school’s volunteer athletics coaches even after he was convicted of a child sex offence, the ABC has revealed.
The broadcaster reports that not only did headmaster Stephen Russell write in support of former coach Peter Kehoe after his 2015 conviction for grooming a child under the age of 16, the school did not provide support to his victim in the lead-up to the trial.
The news comes ahead of tonight’s broadcast of a Four Corners investigation into the school, which has made headlines in recent months due to sexist chants uttered by students on public transport – and allegations of a boy’s club mentality among school leaders aimed at protecting its elite reputation.
‘I wish that all the ladies were holes in the road…’ Remember that offensive ditty sung by a group of private school boys on a tram last year? Now, the story behind the story. ‘Boys Club: Private school privilege and a culture of cover-up’, next on #4Corners pic.twitter.com/brGtsvN83X
— Sally Neighbour (@neighbour_s) February 12, 2020
Speaking to Four Corners, the victim, now 20, said he was “gutted” when he learned of Russell’s letter of reference for Kehoe, who was sentenced to a community corrections order and placed on the sex offender registry.
But that letter was not the school’s only link to Kehoe after his behaviour was revealed. ABC reports the school’s dean of sport, Luke Travers, wrote his own letter of reference for Kehoe even after the victim’s mother outlined her son’s allegations to Travers.
Travers also testified on Kehoe’s character at the trial.
At the same time, the victim’s friend testified in support of his mate. That boy’s mother claims she was contacted by Russell, who was allegedly concerned about the possibility of the boy wearing St. Kevin’s unique blazer while in court.
There is no suggestion either Russell or Travers are guilty of any offence, but in a separate announcement, the ABC states Four Corners has “uncovered evidence of how a desire to protect reputation at all costs has allowed a toxic culture to flourish” at St. Kevin’s.
The episode will air at 8.30pm tonight.
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