Sex abuse victim says school ignored teacher complaints

A WOMAN told the royal commission she was only one of 63 children who came forward about sexual abuse they suffered at Victorian teacher Kenneth "Ken" Sandilands' hands.

Emma Fretton chose to testify without a pseudonym at the public hearing in Sydney today.

Ms Fretton said she was in Mr Sandilands class for years 1, 2 and 3 at Northside Christian College in the mid-1980s when he abused her.

The commission is examining the response of the church body in charge of the college - Northside Christian Centre - and Australian Christian Churches, then known as the Assemblies of God.

Ms Fretton testified she told two teachers Sandilands was touching her inappropriately and writing sexual stories about her family then forcing her to sign them.

But she said her requests to be transferred to another class were ignored.

Ms Fretton testified the school went so far as to pretend to talk to her mother about the allegations over the phone within Ms Fretton's hearing.

She said years later, when she made a statement to police, she learnt her mother knew nothing of the accusations and the phone conversations were fake.

Sandilands was jailed in 2001 after pleading guilty to 12 indecent assaults.

Ms Fretton said she received more than $200,000 in compensation and legal costs after she and other victims took Sandilands, the centre, a pastor and two teachers to court.

She testified her lawyer told her 63 children made complaints against Sandilands.

Other teachers at the school will testify about the abuse when the hearing continues next week.

The commission will also investigate a Sunshine Coast church's handling of sexual abuse.

- APN NEWSDESK



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