Stuart Kelly’s Family Believe Sexual Assault May Have Led To His Suicide

The parents of Stuart Kelly, who died by suicide following a traumatic night at St. Paul’s College at the University of Sydney, are calling for a coronial inquest into his death.

New details into the events that surrounded his one and only night as a resident of St. Paul’s have emerged in a blistering report by End Rape On Campus Australia, The Red Zone, which alleges a culture of sickening hazing rituals.

Kelly’s parents, Ralph and Kathy, believe that some kind of hazing ritual played a key role in their son’s death, and that their son may have been sexually assaulted.

Kelly took his own life in July 2016, several months after spending just one night as at college. The report notes that despite the death of his older brother Thomas, in 2012, which led to ongoing conversations about alcohol-fuelled violence and the controversial lockout laws, Kelly had excelled at school and was excited about the next chapter in his life.

“His father, Ralph Kelly, said that after visiting St Paul’s during USyd’s Open Day early in 2015, Stuart had found his “home” for 2016, a place he could “relate to and start the next chapter in life”. Stuart had been a boarder at The King’s School, a place that had provided a supportive environment following the death of his older brother Thomas in 2012. St Paul’s, it seemed, would provide a similar “home” for Stuart as he transitioned from high school to university.”

On Monday February 22nd, 2016, Kelly’s parents accompanied him to the first night of Orientation Week, staying for the afternoon tea (where students were asked to sign a disclaimer about O-Week) and for the dinner later that evening. Parents were asked to leave about 9:30pm that night, while the residents were instructed to change into their College clothes and return for initiation.

The next time Kelly’s parents saw their son, it was outside the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Medical Centre the following afternoon.

They found Stuart sitting in the gutter, with his head in his hands. He got in the car and began sobbing, unable to speak. His parents had not seen Stuart cry since the day his older brother’s life support had been turned off. “He didn’t cry at the funeral. It was the first time I’d seen him cry since” said Ralph.

He had called his parents five times throughout the day, beginning at 8am. Between 9:30pm the evening before, and 8am the following morning, no one seems to know what happened to him. When Kelly’s parents returned a week later to collect his belongings, they noticed his bed had not been slept in.

Source: EROC Australia.

Kathy Kelly later alleged to police that she believes her son was either sexually assaulted, deeply ridiculed, or threatened by a resident of the college, leading to her son’s suicide several months later.

A copy of her correspondence with police was provided to

“As his mother and probably the closest person who knew him, I am without doubt that something terrible happened to Stuart on the evening of the 22nd of February, 2016, following Ralph’s and my departure from St. Paul’s College.

“I believe one of the following things happened to our son.

1. “He was assaulted, possibly sexually – this was something that Stuart would never have recovered from.

2. “He was so deeply ridiculed and the bullying may have continued online after departing the college.

3. “He or a member of our family (through Stuart) may have been threatened by a person or persons who resided at St. Paul’s College.”

The day his parents took him home, he told them he was “never going back” to St. Paul’s. At one point, his parents convinced him to try returning to the university as a day student, but after one day, he refused to go back, saying he would never return nor would he attend any other university in Australia.

Over the next few months, Kelly refused to share what happened. He remained in his room, emerging only to eat and shower, withdrawing from friends and deleting personal information off Facebook. He killed himself on Monday July 25th, 2016.

In the months that followed, his parents spoke to media about their son’s death, asserting their beliefs that something awful had happened.

In February 2018, in response to media enquiries, the college said that it had conducted an internal investigation into the evening, and “found that the allegations made were not substantiated.” It added that “the College is committed to the values of respect and dignity, including equality of respect for women and men, and actions inconsistent with these values will not be tolerated.”

Finding this answer lacking, the Kelly family and EROC Australia is now calling for a coronial inquest into his death and time at St. Paul’s College.

If you or someone you know is being bulled, you can call the Kids Helpline (ages 5 to 25) on 1800 55 1800. For issues around sexual assault, you can call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, or find more services at If you are in distress, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.