Geelong Grammar ‘wanted to avoid scandal’

Geelong Grammar School wanted abuse complaints to vanish, and one boarder resorted to rigging up a warning system in an attempt to stop the sexual assaults, an inquiry has heard.


The prestigious school was only interested in avoiding a scandal when former student BKO reported being abused during a hypnosis session with a chaplain, the child abuse royal commission heard.

BKO said the boys pretended to be hypnotised as they were scared of Rev John Davison, who fondled them during the sessions.

BKO told his maths teacher Jonathan Harvey – later convicted for abusing a student himself – and found the process very threatening.

“I know the school was only concerned about avoiding a scandal,” BKO said on Wednesday.

BKO said when he returned to school in 1972 after summer holidays he was told by a staff member: “We were going to expel you because we didn’t believe you but he confessed”.

BKO said he was upset with the way the school handled the incident, adding no one had acknowledged that what Mr Davison did was wrong or that they were sorry.

“I was made to feel that I was wrong.

“It was very clinical, it was very cold, and even though he went and I stayed, I always had a bit of a sense that it was partly my fault.

“I got the impression that the school simply wanted the issue to vanish. They were not comfortable dealing with it at all.”

Another former student BIZ said he awoke to find live-in boarding house assistant Philippe Trutmann – dubbed “filthy Phil” by some students – fondling him and pretended to be asleep as he was scared.

BIZ said he reported the 1985 or 1986 abuse to the matron Jenny Davis, the closest thing he had to a friend in the boarding house, but she dismissed it.

“I said: ‘Mr Trutmann has been coming into my room and playing with me in my bed’,” BIZ said in a statement read out by counsel assisting the commission David Lloyd.

“She said: ‘He must have been looking for the cat’.

“I am sure it was pretty clear to her what I meant when I said ‘playing with me in my bed’.”

BIZ said the abuse continued and he rigged up a warning system by tying knitting wool around his door handle, a towel rail on the wardrobe, a chair and to his toe, so he would wake up if his bedroom door opened.

“The system worked just as I hoped it would and it woke me up,” he said.

BIZ said he thought Trutmann had stopped but he then continued to abuse him.

Trutmann was later jailed for six and a half years for abusing 40 boys at Geelong Grammar between 1985 and 1995.

A woman who was part of the first group of girls to attend Geelong Grammar said her music teacher Max Guzelian abused her for three years, from when she was aged 10 until 13, in the 1970s.

BKL told the commission music department head Malcolm John told her the abuse was partly her fault.

“As a result, I was told that I was not permitted to play in the band of any orchestra. I was to be excluded from all concert activities.”

Mr John denies knowing about the abuse, having the conversation or excluding the girl from activities due to the abuse disclosure.

BKL said she was also repeatedly sexually abused by another teacher in year 12 in 1980.

“The only reason the abuse stopped was because I finished school and left it,” she said.

Mr Lloyd said Mr Guzelian, now deceased, was not charged.