Dozens of former students of Christs College in Christchurch have shared their own unsatisfactory experiences at the school in the wake of allegations of historic abuse.
The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, Peter Carrell, told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care former students in the multiples of 10s contacted the school in response to the testimony of old boy Jim Goodwin.
Goodwin was in fifth form (year 11) when he was abused by senior students who made him drink several litres of warm, salty water, caused him to vomit blood, and violated him with a broom handle.
He shared his ordeal when he testified before the commission in December.
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Carrell said not all the former students who contacted the school did so to complain, but they do represent an unsatisfactory experience of life at that school in the time that they were a pupil there.
Christs College board of governors chairman Hugh Lindo said after Goodwin testified, the school contacted about 5500 former students whose contact details they had on a database. The school received 41 emails in response.
When news broke in February of inappropriate sexual behaviour by Lindsay William Hutchinson, a music teacher at the school from 1985 to 1987, the school received another 18 emails from former students.
None of these were complaints about sexual abuse similar to the horrific experience Jim Goodwin had, Lindo said.
But for many old boys Jims testimony prompted recollections of a tough life at Christs College.
A disconnected telephone helpline, missing files that detailed sexual abuse, and a serious lack of training. These were some of the Anglican Church’s more embarrassing admissions at yesterday’s redress hearing of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The emails referred to the hauling culture at the school, being subjected to corporal punishment, and senior students routinely bullying juniors.
Lindo said he responded to every email apologising for their experience. Some wrote back saying they were grateful for their negative experiences to be acknowledged.
None of the old boys sought any type of redress from the school.
Goodwin told Stuff he was under the impression close to 80 old boys had contacted the school since he shared his ordeal.
Lindo said while fewer than 80 had contacted the school, it was possible that some might have gone directly to the Royal Commission and asked that their identities to remain confidential.
When Carrell was asked by commission counsel Simon Mount QC about Christs College response to complaints received from old boys, he said he trusted the school to have proper policies and processes in place.
Carrell is the warden of Christs College, as well as for a number of other Canterbury schools under the Anglican Church’s umbrella.
When pressed by Mount, Carrell said he could have been more decisive in writing to each of the schools and asking for them to send me their policies, so I could look at them.
Lindo said he would not expect Carrell to have intricate knowledge of how Christs College handled reports of abuse or negative experiences since he was not required as a warden to be involved with day-to-day responsibilities at the school.
Goodwin said he met with the leadership of Christs College twice and was impressed with how the school responded to his case.
He believed the school was sincere in wanting to reach former students who might have been victims of abuse and giving them the apology and redress they deserve.