School’s extraordinary newspaper apology

One of Australia's most prestigious schools has issued a concrete apology to a boy who was "profoundly harmed" by serious sexual abuse from a female teacher.

Sydney Grammar School printed the 313-word apology in The Sydney Morning Herald today, having taken out a quarter-page advertisement on page three.

The boy was abused in 2016 by then teacher Bronwen Williams, who pleaded guilty in the NSW District Court to five counts of sexual intercourse with a person under her care.

 

The full apology filled a quarter of page three on Saturday, September 28, 2019.
The full apology filled a quarter of page three on Saturday, September 28, 2019.

 

"Williams' offending has caused the school to review its policies and procedures, which did not prevent or detect the abuse against its former student," the statement reads.

"For that, and for what occurred, the school is deeply sorry and apologies unreservedly to its former student and his family."

The victim was abused for three months across 2016 and came forward at the end of the year.

Williams met up with him at her home, spare classrooms and in a school storage cupboard, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The court was told the pair ate ice cream on Williams' couch and watched movies before having the illegal sex, the Daily Mail reported.

In the apology, the school praised the former student's "enormous bravery" and courage for reporting the sexual abuse, which continues to have "a profoundly harmful impact" on him.

It thanked the boy for finding strength "in impossible circumstances" to stop further offending.

Williams was jailed in February 2018 for at least seven months and has since served her time.

Judge Paul Lakatos reportedly said the boy's victim impact statement had detailed Williams' domineering insistence that made him feel as though he had few rights or any personal choice.

 

Bronwen Williams’ victim is no longer a student at the school. Picture: John Grainger
Bronwen Williams’ victim is no longer a student at the school. Picture: John Grainger

 

THE FULL APOLOGY

Sydney Grammar School wishes to apologise to one of its former students, who was the victim of serious sexual abuse by a teacher at the School.

On 9 May 2017, a former teacher of the School, Ms Bronwen Williams, pleaded guilty to offences of serious sexual abuse in 2016 against a student attending the school.

By law, his name cannot be published. The District Court of NSW convicted Williams in early 2018 of a number of offences, and sentenced her to a full-time prison term, which she has now served.

The abuse took place during 2016 after an extended period of inappropriate conduct towards the student by Ms Williams.

This had, and continues to have, a profoundly harmful impact on the student. Williams' conduct was reported by the student at the end of 2016.

The school acknowledges this took enormous bravery on his part, and respectfully records its admiration of his courage in coming forward.

It remains truly grateful that he found the strength, in impossible circumstances, to ensure that other students were kept safe from Williams and that she was brought to justice for her misconduct.

The school is proud of the brave example he set in reporting the sexual abuse, preventing there being further victims, and it encourages all victims of abuse to report it.

The abuse of male students by female teachers is just as serious, and damaging, as the abuse of female students by male teachers, and it is regrettable that this was not acknowledged in some of the reporting of this case.

Williams' offending has caused the school to review its policies and procedures, which did not prevent or detect the abuse against its former student. For that, and for what occurred, the school is deeply sorry, and apologises unreservedly to its former student and his family.



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