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   Aug 24

More than 40 years on, two teachers will face judgment

UNDER ARREST: On Thursday night a 77-year-old former teacher was charged by detectives attached to Strike Force Flair, following a raid on his Armidale home earlier that day.TWENTY-four primary school students at one Armidale school were molested, kidnapped or assaulted at the hands of two of their own teachers, detectives will allege in court.
Nanjing Night Net

The extent of the historical allegations have finally been revealed this week after two years of investigations culminated in the arrest of the second target of police, a 77-year-old Armidale man, who was employed as a teacher at Ben Venue Public School in the 1970s.

The elderly Armidale man, along with a 71-year-old former teacher arrested in May, are at the centre of allegations of physical and sexual abuse of former students, who recounted their experiences during several interviews with Strike Force Flair detectives.

The police operation was triggered after a referral from the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013.

Armidale detectives established the strike force in June 2013, with the assistance of the State Crime Command’s sex crimes unit, to home in on what had allegedly occurred on school grounds, and behind closed doors, during the early 1970s.

What they have uncovered isthat 24 students allegedly suffered assaults, abuse and horrific experiences by the very people who were employed to educate them.

According to police facts, the abuse occurred mostly on school grounds between 1970 and 1974.

Both men, who cannot be named until the cases head to court, remain on bail to live in Armidale but areprohibited from contacting or approaching their alleged victims or police witnesses.

The arrests of both men were revealed by The Leader, and Fairfax Media has obtained photos of Thursday’s arrest in a quiet Armidale street.

Through the police investigation, detectives discovered fresh evidence relating to both men and uncovered more victims as their enquiriesgathered pace and former students came forward to recount their school experiences.

The 77-year-old former teacher allegedly abused six young girls and the 71-year-old allegedly assaulted 18 young boys.

They were all students at the school at the time and had yet to reach their teenage years.

In a May interview with The Leader, then-acting Superintendent Roger Best said police had been doing everything they could to support victims through the process.

“These alleged victims are obviously traumatised and it takes external events like the royal commission to make the decision to report the events to authorities,” he said.

The 77-year-old is charged with two counts of kidnapping, three counts of common assault on a female and 10 separate counts of assaulting a female and committing an act of indecency with a victim under 16 – the charge in place at the time of the alleged offending.

Strike Force Flair detectives raided his Armidale home on Thursday morning and seized a number of photographs of interest.

The 71-year-old former teacher arrested in May will front court for the first time on Monday to answer 33 allegations of indecent assault – the offence in place during the early 1970s.

The Northern Daily Leader

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