“I’ve got a lot of hate mail” … Tim Hawkes, headmaster of The King’s School.THE headmaster of The King’s School has defended his decision not to expel a student charged with attempted rape while in Scotland on an international leadership exchange program.
Timothy Hawkes said he had suspended the teenager facing the ”dreadful” allegation and had also suspended others involved in incidents on the exchange program but described those other incidents as ”minor”.
Dr Hawkes strongly denied there was an ”endemic problem” at the school, and of thecharge said ”there is a feeling that it may not go to trial at all and the matter may well be dropped”.
On Sunday Fairfax Media revealed that several students at the elite private school were involved in incidents while on the 10-week leadership program, including a 16-year-old boy who returned to Australia a fortnight ago after he was arrested, charged and remanded in custody over the alleged sexual assault at Scotland’s oldest boarding school, Loretto.
Dr Hawkes had claimed the 16-year-old boy had ”failed in his ambassadorial duties” but would not be expelled.
His comments were not well-received on social media, with several voicing their concerns on the school’s Facebook page. ”There are no plans to expel a student who has been charged with rape [sic] while representing your school? REALLY? When I was at school I got severely reprimanded for having a piercing in my face,” one comment read.
On Sunday Dr Hawkes said ”I’ve got a lot of hate mail” but defended the decision not to expel the boy, saying this would have ”infringed on procedural fairness”. He said the boy was suspended and his eventual fate would be determined by the legal process.
”I don’t think The King’s School deserved the denigration … this is not a legal view but the general feeling is that it’s almost certain the charges will be dropped,” Dr Hawkes said.
He refused to go into details about other reported incidents on the exchange program but said relative to the sexual assault allegation they were ”very minor and these are part of what schools are dealing with all the time”. Students involved in these incidents had also been suspended.
An anti-sexual violence campaigner, Nina Funnell, who has done work with private schools, said principals may be reluctant to expel students accused of sexual assault without a court outcome but ”it is highly inappropriate to dilute the seriousness of a sexual assault allegation by using language that minimises or reframes the criminal nature of the alleged act”.
Governance of The King’s School is in the hands of a council that meets 10 times a year. The majority of members are appointed by the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.
The council’s chairman, the Reverend Martin Robinson, would say only that he had been ”fully briefed over the course of this matter” but all comment should come from Dr Hawkes.
The president of the school’s council, the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, through a spokesman declined to comment on the matter. He would not say whether he still had confidence in Dr Hawkes.
Clarification:The original article said the boy was charged with rape. Further information provided to Fairfax Mediaindicates that the charge was attempted rape, which is also covered under section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, although is not mentioned in the wording of the section.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.