“Catholic school principal opted to protect Bishop rather than tell police of sexual abuse allegations” & related article & VIDEO

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THIS Catholic school principal did not refer serious allegations of sexual abuse in his school to police because he believed “the Bishop must not be compromised”.

Terence Michael Hayes, principal when teacher Gerard Byrnes assaulted 13 girls at his Toowoomba school, failed to apologise when he took to the stand at the royal commission into child sex abuse.

Under a grilling before a packed public gallery, Mr Hayes admitted: a victim was forced to re-enact the sexual abuse in his office using her dad’s hands to show how Byrnes touched her; he omitted accusations when reporting the abuse to his superiors that Byrnes put his hands down a girl’s pants; he never liked Byrnes, despite re-hiring him after he retired.

Mr Hayes is still working at another Catholic school.

Byrnes is behind bars.

Mr Hayes told the commission he thought it was more appropriate to refer allegations against Byrnes to the Catholic Education Office than the police.


Former principal Terence Hayes has told a commission he thought it was more appropriate to refer allegations against Byrnes to the Catholic Education Office than the police.

“The view that I formed was that principals were of the understanding that the CEO was the first port of call, and that the Bishop must not be compromised,” Mr Hayes said.

“The CEO told the principals that they were there to help us.”

Byrnes’ crimes occured within the past decade, despite protocols in place in the school for how to deal with sexual abuse. The inquiry heard how the first girl who came to his office with a complaint was forced to re-enact the abuse using her father’s hands in Mr Hayes’s office.

Junior Counsel Assisting Andrew Naylor, SC, asked Mr Hayes whether the girl had been asked to “demonstrate’’ her allegations after describing them in detail.

“Am I correct in understanding that after (the girl) had described to you the conduct of Mr Byrnes, you asked her to demonstrate what he did using her father?’’ he said.

Mr Hayes replied that that wasn’t true.

Gerard Byrnes has been accused of assaulting 13 girls at a Toowoomba school. Picture: Cha

Gerard Byrnes has been accused of assaulting 13 girls at a Toowoomba school. Picture: Channel Nine.

“Cathy (Ms Long) asked the girl to demonstrate,’’ he corrected, refering to the school’s student protection officer.

“Did you think that that was an appropriate request to make, given what had been said about the kind of conduct that Mr Byrnes allegedly engaged in?’’ Mr Naylor asked.

Mr Hayes said he believed it was.

The Commission heard how Mr Hayes’ letter to the CEO detailing the allegations omitted accusations that Gerard Byrnes had not just put hands inside the shirts of girls, but down their pants.

Mr Hayes said he was in a hurry to get the letter out to the CEO and did not deliberately omit the allegations.

Junior Counsel Assisting Andrew Naylor, SC, questioned why Mr Hayes did not tell authorities, as required by state law and the school’s own child protection manual.

Assistant principal Megan Wagstaff told the commission she was not equipped with the skil

Assistant principal Megan Wagstaff told the commission she was not equipped with the skills to deal with the “catastrophe’’ which hit the school in 2008.

Mr Hayes insisted he did follow procedure by informing the Catholic Education Office, speaking with Brynes and writing a letter to Byrnes.

He denied a suggestion by Mr Naylor that he said to Byrnes during that meeting: “Let’s hope it will all blow over, see you next term.’’

“Absolutely not, I refute that, that is wrong, I never said that,” Mr Hayes said.

Mr Hayes said he did not actively seek to re-hire Byrnes as a supply teacher in July of 2008 but had to balance the school’s need for staff with his own dislike of Byrnes.

Assistant principal Megan Wagstaff told the commission she was not equipped with the skills to deal with the “catastrophe’’ which hit the school in 2008.

Commissioner Jennifer Coate asked: “Do you think you were properly equipped as the deputy principal of the school in terms of knowledge, training, and understanding of this complex area…?


Brisbane’s first public hearing of the royal commission into child sexual abuse begins today.

“No I was not,’’ replied Ms Wagstaff

Ms Wagstaff said while she followed protocol in reporting the first complaint of Byrnes’ behaviour in 2007 to the principal, she did not follow procedure correctly.

“There’s a different procedure that needs to be followed,” she said.

Ms Wagstaff said she left off dates and names of children in her initial report.

“Knowing what we know now, it could have been handled very differently,” she said.

The inquiry resumes today.


Toowoomba abuse victim of teacher Gerard Byrnes told to re-enact her allegations for school principal and student protection officer, using her father as a stand-in

The Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia)


THERE were four of them in the principal’s office – the young girl, her dad, a woman taking notes and the principal himself.

They told the girl she should feel comfortable. That she was brave. That she could tell them anything. She started talking. She told them what she had told her dad.

A teacher, Gerard Byrnes, had been touching her. He had put his arm around her when she was sitting on the floor for news time and rubbed her chest.

When she walked up to a desk, he put his hand up her skirt. It had made her feel uncomfortable, she said.

Principal Terry Hayes listened as the school’s Student Protection Officer, Catherine Long, took careful notes.

When she was finished, they asked whether she might show them what she had described.

Her father could act out the part of her abuser, they suggested. They asked her, using her father’s hands, to relive her abuse so they could ensure they knew exactly what she meant by her allegations.

That extraordinary description of the meeting was heard by a packed public gallery as the royal commission met for a second day.

Junior Counsel assisting Andrew Naylor, SC, asked Mr Hayes whether the girl had been asked to “demonstrate” her allegations after describing them in detail, using her father.

Mr Hayes said that wasn’t true. “Cathy (Ms Long) asked the girl to demonstrate,” he said.

Despite requesting the re-enactment, the royal commission would hear, it was that very incident – where the teacher put his hand up the girl’s skirt – that Mr Hayes would later forget to include in a letter detailing the accusations to the Catholic Education Office.


School did not inform police of alleged abuse for more than year, inquiry told

Principal, student protection officer and Catholic Education Office were aware of complaints against teacher later jailed for 44 counts of child sex abuse and took no action, commission told

Australian Associated Press


Catherine Long after giving evidence at the child abuse royal commission Catherine Long, a former child protection officer at a Queensland Catholic school, leaves the the child abuse royal commission in Brisbane after giving evidence. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

A Queensland Catholic school did not tell parents or police about sexual abuse allegations against a teacher for more than a year, an inquiry has heard.

Complaints of abuse were first made against Gerard Byrnes in 2007 but he remained working as a teacher at the school until he resigned in June 2008, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in Brisbane was told on Monday.

A month later, Byrnes was re-employed as a relief teacher at the school in July and held the position until he was arrested that November. Over his course of employment at the school he sexually abused 13 girls.

The principal, Terence Hayes, the school’s student protection officer, Catherine Long, and the Catholic Education Office were aware of the sexual abuse complaints and took no action, the commission was told.

Hayes was said to have told one girl’s father he would deal with her abuse complaint internally in September 2007 but denied knowing anything when police informed other parents their daughters had also been abused in 2008.

A mother, known as KP, told the inquiry that after police swooped on the teacher, the Catholic Education Office and the school denied any prior knowledge of the abuse.

“I found out later, through media reports and court processes, that this was not even true. Mr Hayes was aware of complaints about Mr Byrnes for over a year but did not report them to police,” KP told the inquiry by videolink.

“A report should have been made to the police straight after the first complaint was made to the school. If this had happened, KC and the other girls would not have been abused.”

Another mother, known as KO, was told by police that her daughter, KA, had been abused by the teacher in 2008.

At KA’s birthday party another girl told KA that she and her father had met Hayes and told him she had been abused by the teacher in 2007.

“Terry Hayes had told the family at the time the school would deal with it,” KO told the inquiry via videolink. “The family then moved to Brisbane not long after, so nobody else knew what Mr Byrnes was doing to the girls. We weren’t warned or informed by the school.”

Long told the commission she could not believe that 13 girls did not have the courage to speak out about being sexually abused by their teacher.

Long, who is still a teacher at the school, was present at a 2007 meeting between Hayes and a girl who had a complaint about being abused by Byrnes.

She said although she was the school’s student protection officer at the time, she did not report the complaint to police. “No, I didn’t think I was in charge of the situation,” Long said.

“I was there as the note taker. The principal was there. He was in charge, not me, and that’s not passing the buck, that’s where I thought we stood.”

Byrnes was eventually arrested in 2008 before being jailed for 44 counts of child sex abuse in 2010.

Long said Byrnes had regularly given lollies to schoolgirls and they were seen “hanging off him” when he was on playground duty, but she hadn’t seen his actions as grooming.

But Long also said she still struggled to believe that her colleague could have abused so many girls with so many other adults around without anybody noticing.

“I don’t get that our children, with all of the student protection and everything else we have, didn’t have the courage to come forward,” she told the inquiry.

“They didn’t speak to us, the people they knew and trusted supposedly, they couldn’t talk to their parents, and you heard their mums today, they still haven’t spoken up.

“Why? What is it that’s caused this, that’s stopped these kids from speaking out? So I struggle with it.”

The inquiry was adjourned until Tuesday morning.

17 Responses to “Catholic school principal opted to protect Bishop rather than tell police of sexual abuse allegations” & related article & VIDEO

  1. Sylvia says:

    This strains credulity. The child was instructed by the principal to use her father’s hands to show these teachers how she was molested by a school teacher?! In other words, the girl and her father were obliged to engage in incestuous activity?

    Are those people insane? I am aghast. Aghast.

    And this:

    “…Long also said she still struggled to believe that her colleague could have abused so many girls with so many other adults around without anybody noticing.”

    Where have these people been? It happens all the time.

    How many times does the wheel have to be re-invented? One inquiry after the other after the other, and still they don’t get it?

    This happened in 2007.

    What does it take?

    That poor child, and her poor father.

  2. JG says:

    …’the “catastrophe’’ which hit the school …”

    A catastrophe for the school! What about the catastrophe for the girls?….
    They did not report for fear of not being believed, for feeling guilt and shame.
    Mr. Hayes seems to be a total incompetent, an absolute imbecile…at best! I would have some serious concerns for his “oversight” or the “distraction”, the “rush” to send off his report without the most crucial and serious allegation! He was more concerned about the “bishop’s” protection! Too Catholic to remember his conscience?
    As a Father myself, I am here wondering about a Father who would have gone along with such a “demonstration”!!! Was he too trusting as well, was he too Catholic to be the “protector” for his child?? Why did HE not go to the Police?
    When you believe you have heard it all!
    The one consolation, if there can be one, 13 girls have identified a predator and it did not take 20-30-50 years…
    Get the girls some counseling and some serious acknowledgment for their courage.
    Haynes, just like Byrne, deserves jail therapy!


  3. Marion says:

    What do background checks do to prevent this abuse from happening?
    Nothing. The beat goes on. The pedophile will find ways. The church will cover it up and protect the pedophile. Canon law is there to protect the clergy. Civil & federal law will often be subverted by canon law or those who write it.
    How this must sicken the heart of God. It sickens mine and I am much less compassionate and merciful that He.

  4. Larry Green says:

    Hayes said, “had to balance the school’s need for staff with his own dislike of Byrnes.” Willfully and callously refused to give any weight to the well being of vulnerable and unsuspecting children into his ‘wonderful balancing’ act.
    Hayes ‘claims’ his allegiants to the bishop or his superiors (whatever) superseded any notion of doing what comes natural to most human beings… the right thing. For these reasons he ought to face criminal charges.
    Mr. Hayes, the authority in his office , precipitated and facilitated the sexual assault of this young girl in his presence and while he watched and should be charged with the same. Let a jury decide on motive and intent.
    ‘ The Father’ of this young female, sexually assaulted her at least once on this particular occasion. Let a jury decide his guilt or innocence in accordance with the rule of law.

  5. Larry Green says:

    i.e.If the father of this young girl thought it was okay to assault his daughter on this particular occasion , are there other ‘special’ circumstances when it’s okay?

    • Larry Green says:

      If the Man who performed the demo on this young girl would have been a priest would there be more concern and outcry? If the young girl had been a young boy would there be more concern and outcry?

      • Larry Green says:

        For the general population of Catholic laity the sorry reality of child sexual molestation is profoundly exacerbated by the pathetic reality of cover-up and enabling. For the actual victims it makes very little difference what mr./ms. molesters job was. Contrary no doubt to what some might think.

        • Larry Green says:

          Does anyone actually believe that the degree of damage reeked upon a victim of child sexual abuse can be determined by whether or not the offender was Fr. or daddy? Or Doctor or uncle or friend or neighbor or ‘ friendly stranger.’ Lets not be fooled by the alluring attributes of projects and agendas.

          • B says:

            Not sure where you’re going with this, Larry? The degree of damage which is done to the victim partly depends on the degree of trust that is put in the individual, so if the victim’s families have taught them to regard priests as being the most trustworthy individuals they could ever approach, the people whose teaching is the most important to their wellbeing, then, yes, it does make a huge difference what the molester’s “job” was.

            In addition, victims often lose their ability to trust anyone who reminds them of the abuser (all men, all doctors, all priests)–so in fact children are profoundly affected by the specifics of the molester.

  6. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Assistant Principal Megan Wagstaff claimed that she was “not equipped” to handle this situation!!!!!!!!!!!!! Principal Terrence Hayes thought it “more appropriate” to refer this matter to the catholic education office instead of the police!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is as lame and twisted as I have EVER heard!
    If these two idiots really believe what they are saying, then neither of them belong in a school system in ANY capacity, let alone Principal and Asst. Principal.
    I do not believe either of their lame assertions for one minute!

    If this were Mr. Hayes child, or if it was Ms. Wagstaff’s child, the garbage coming out of their mouths would be entirely different. Mike.

    • Miecul says:

      Mike, if stupid was a crime, then Terence Hayes and Catherine Long should already be in prison. They should bring back the 1959 whipping for pedophiles and for anyone who hides a pedophile. But that would be harsh and unusual punishment. The lawmakers aren’t tough enough on crimes against children. I often wonder why more isn’t being done to protect our most valuable assets. Does anyone else ever wonder who is responsible for dragging their feet? We should have an Inquiry lol. They’ll say write your MP or MPP. Foo wee. Common sense. Should we really have to tell them? If we do they shouldn’t be there…. Back to my first sentence…..

  7. Larry Green says:

    No matter how one frames it, the young girl was sexually assaulted in that office! Sure wouldn’t want to see any pedophile ( priest or otherwise) go free from justice because he/she perceived the assault to be an unintended consequence of a ‘noble’ cause. New precedence are set every day and often in favor of the real or potential criminal.

  8. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks for your response, but I don’t think “stupid” even rates a sentence here! This is way beyond stupid. This is nothing short of criminal complicity.
    I really hope Bronwyn Halfpenny is aware of these two chameleon hypocrites.
    They’re trying to convince the whole world that they’re completely naïve and unable to grasp the seriousness of this matter.
    I don’t buy it for one second. They are the highest ranking school officials in this school. Either they are both complete certified idiots, or they are complicit in this matter. Mike.

  9. there is no honesty left at SMIS says:

    Thank you Sylvia, how thoroughly lucky are we to have you reporting on child sexual throughout the world.

    And thank you too to your husband for sharing his time with you with us.

  10. Larry Green says:

    @ B, first of all you make the groundless assumption that I am heading in some mysterious direction with ’this’ but that is not the last of the ridiculous false assumptions that you go on to claim.
    It would be interesting to see the apparatus you use to measure the ’degree’ of damage. Or at least to see the details of the scientific study (if one exists) that you base these notions of yours on.
    So if a person who was sexually assaulted by a stranger ( say for example at the age 8) came to you for counselling , you would say well since you never did trust the offender to begin with you are not suffering as much as that other person who was molested by someone they trusted. And it’s a good thing you didn’t know what his job was because that would be worse for you too.

    • Lina says:

      A bit of over-reacting to “B’s” post I say and “B”just wanted some kind of clarification about your post.

      On changing the subject matter …this is my own observation.

      There is nothing wrong Larry for you going to church and practicing your faith just like Sylvia does as well as so many other people.

      It seems to me you are too close to the Pembroke clergy. Especially one priest that Sylvia needed to ban along with another priest from this website way back during a super bowl weekend. Please don’t even try to deny it with any of your ifs, ands or buts.

      Sylvia eventually needed to take this action of banishing these two priests from this site in order to keep the credibility of this website going for survivors of clergy abuse and betrayal and also for those folks who support them.

      Over and over again it has been proven the Pembroke Diocese is looking out for their own clergymen not the clergy abuse victims/survivors.

      Other people are free to decide for themselves and make-up their own mind about you and the Pembroke Diocese clergy.

      As for me, I don’t trust you and furthermore I don’t care what you think of me that goes double for all the priests and other clergy members in the Pembroke Diocese and many of their supporters.

      I was hoping there was never be a need for me to post this but I couldn’t go on ignore this situation any longer.

  11. B says:

    No, Larry, that is not what I am saying. You claimed that it makes no difference to a molested child what the abuser’s job was. I disputed that.

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