Convicted paedophile David Whitcroft is the subject of a new police investigation over fresh claims he sexually assaulted several Geelong College students while he was involved in rowing at the school in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The investigation by Geelong detectives follows a string of recent allegations against several teachers who, it is claimed, engaged in inappropriate conduct at the exclusive school starting in the 1960s.
Several former students told Fairfax Media that Whitcroft was accused of groping a male student in a dormitory bed in 1993, before he was sacked by the school and asked to vacate his on-campus accommodation.
The allegations were never reported to police at the time and the school failed to explain Whitcroft’s sudden departure to students.
Past boarders from the college said Whitcroft would regularly invite students to his unit, where he would allow them to smoke and sometimes offer massages.
David Whitcroft at the County Court in Melbourne. Photo: Jason South
He is understood to have massaged up to a dozen boys.
“Unaccompanied boys would go to this guy’s apartment, disrobe to their underwear and be massaged.
“Looking back on it, I can’t believe that was going on at the school and no one stopped it,” one former student said.
Another student said it was: “flat out grooming, we just didn’t know it at the time.
“I have grave fears for one bloke, who was particularly vulnerable and spent a lot of time at his [Whitcroft’s] place.”
Dr Hugh Seward, chair of the Geelong College Council, denied any report of a sexual assault had been received by the school at the time, but confirmed Whitcroft’s role as a duty master had been terminated when he defied instructions not to massage boys.
“The college recognises that if this type of conduct was intended to facilitate a child’s involvement in a sexual offence, it could be considered grooming, which is now a criminal offence,” Dr Seward said.
“While the actions of the principal indicate he was uncomfortable with Mr Whitcroft’s behaviour, he did not have evidence of such an intention or a criminal offence to report.”
Dr Seward confirmed the college had co-operated with the Geelong Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigative Team, which is understood to have spoken with several past teachers.
The school has also appointed an independent facilitator to provide counselling, along with policies and procedures to protect students from abuse.
After leaving Geelong College in 1993, Whitcroft is understood to have relocated to Rockhampton for a time, but he is known to have returned to Melbourne and worked as a rowing coach at other private schools.
On May 3, Whitcroft now 68, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, plus a two-year community correction order, after pleading guilty to five charges of sexual penetration of a 14-year-old boy at the Sunshine Boys’ Hostel in 1982.
Whitcroft was employed as a social worker. He admitted taking his victim to a farm near Torquay, where the vulnerable teenager was plied with marijuana and scotch, offered naked massages, and abused.
Whitcroft was told by Judge Duncan Allen his crimes were towards the severe end of the scale, because of his “position of trust, the ongoing nature of the offending, and the impact on the victim”.
Police recommend anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse should seek counselling at the Centre Against Sexual Assault and speak with a specialised detective at their local Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team.
A man who slashed a woman’s throat with a machete in a violent rampage in Canberra’s north spent four years at an immigration detention centre and had been in the midst of a family dispute, a court heard.
Imran Hakimi, 33, yelled and made threats as he randomly hacked at cars with a machete and a paring knife as they drove through Belconnen about 11.20pm on November 13 last year.
Court documents said Hakimi used the machete to hit the window and door frame of one woman’s car, before he opened the car door and held the knife against her throat.
The blade caused a cut to her throat, drawing blood, but had not been deep enough to cause serious injury.
The woman fled and Hakimi next attacked a taxi, striking the bonnet with the knife, before opening the driver side door, and yelling: “I have lost my kids, I will stab you, you black c—.”
He then struck at the taxi driver, cutting the man’s chin.
The driver grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the vehicle.
Two taxi passengers then pulled Hakimi from the car and restrained him, before two other men joined in. They subdued Hakimi until police arrived.
Hakimi pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to nine charges linked to the rampage, including intentional wounding, possessing a weapon with intent, and property damage.
He appeared before Justice John Burns for a sentence hearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Katrina McKenzie said Hakimi’s behaviour had been aggressive, agitated, forceful and he had acted in close proximity to his victims, placing the offences at the upper end of mid-range seriousness.
She noted the random nature of the attack on victims “just going about their business”, although she said there had been no evidence the rampage had been planned.
“It really crystallises the anger the offender felt at the time, he was going to take that anger out on whoever was in front of him,” she said.
Hakimi’s defence barrister James Sabharwal said the attack had been “a bizarre episode” and his client had been in a highly-charged, emotional state at the time.
He said Hakimi had spent four years at Woomera immigration detention centre in South Australia before he moved to the ACT more than a decade ago.
His client had since been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and was under significant stress linked to a family court case, which appeared to have contributed to the “horrendous attack”, Mr Sabharwal said.
The court heard Hakimi had consumed alcohol on the night but was so agitated at the time of his arrest he had been unable to be subjected to a blood-alcohol test.
Mr Sabharwal asked the court to take into account his client’s early guilty pleas and the fact he’d been in custody since his arrest.
A family friend, who had known Hakimi for 15 years, told the court Hakimi was a kind, caring and respectful man who had a traumatic journey to Australia as a teenager and had struggled with mental illness.
The friend said the family had been “shocked and saddened” when they learned of the attack, which he described as “completely out of character”.
Justice Burns agreed the incident was bizarre given Hakimi did not have a history of violent offending and appeared to otherwise be of good character.
He questioned whether the attack could have been triggered by alcohol consumption, with Hakimi’s frustration over the court case and mental health problems as background factors.
Justice Burns will hand down his sentence next month.
After decades of inaction, the Palaszczuk Labor Government will introduce legislation to standardise the age of consent, bringing an end to one of the State’s most discriminatory laws.
Under current legislation, the age of consent for vaginal sex is 16, but anal sex, which is still referred to as sodomy under the Criminal Code, remains illegal until a person is 18.
It has meant that teenagers, particularly young gay men, have had issues accessing safe sexual practice information, with practitioners forced to inform those seeking information on anal sex, about the illegality of the act.
Queensland is the only jurisdiction where the ages of consent are different and Health Minister Cameron Dick said following advice from an expert panel, it was the only course of action the government could take.
“By making this change, we are addressing the disparity between the age of consent for penetrative sex, which has resulted in adverse consequences for young people in this state,” he said.
“It is clear that inconsistent age of consent laws act as a barrier to young people accessing safe sexual health information. It is time that Queensland modernised its framework.”
Along with that modernisation comes a groundbreaking step, with the government releasing its draft Sexual Health Strategy, a first for Australia, which aims to provide better information regarding sexual health and contraceptive options, as well as having better medical services, with improved training for sexual health workers, Mr Dick said the strategy would “support and improve” the sexual health of Queenslanders and built on the work already being done in the sphere, as well as provide education on sexuality itself and improve service access.
The last time the State ventured into its citizen’s bedrooms to change laws regarding consensual sexual conduct was in 1990, when the Goss Government passed legislation overturning homosexuality as an offence.
But the age of consent disparity remained, with a growing number of LGBTIQ advocates, health workers and educators lobbying successive governments to standardise the law, pointing to it as a continued discrimination against the State’s gay community, and proving potentially dangerous for young people seeking information.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced the government intended on examining the issue during last year’s Estimates hearings. Almost a year later, Mr Dick’s legislation, expected to be introduced into parliament on Wednesday, will work to right a wrong almost three decades in the making.
THE Government has slashed spending on youth justice programs and services as it continues to spruik its hard line law-and-order agenda in the lead up to the Northern Territory election.
The Country Liberal Party allocated $1.2 million towards youth justice programs in 2016/17, down from the $2 million spent this financial year.
The cut comes despite the Government acknowledging the NT prison population is on track to increase, with $2.5 million allocated to meet demand at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and $4.5 million in operational funding for the Territory’s prisons to cater for “increased prisoner numbers”.
The NT already had the country’s highest incarceration rate. Territorians are jailed at 4.5 times the national rate.
NT Council of Social Services executive director Wendy Morton said she was “extremely disappointed” to see funding slashed. “We would have been looking to see an increase in programs to prevent young people entering the justice system,” she said. “It’s cost effective to keep people out and it makes the community safer if we’re investing in young people.”
The cut comes shortly after Chief Minister Adam Giles announced plans to make it harder for repeat property crime offenders to get bail in a social media rant against “bad youth”.
That proposal has been roundly criticised by the legal fraternity, the NT Children’s Commissioner and groups including Amnesty International. Ms Morton said the Government was walking away from its responsibilities to troubled young people.
“I think when you tie this in with comments made by the Chief Minister last week around taking away bail provisions, it is really concerning that this government has a lack of commitment to reducing incarceration, particularly of indigenous youth,” she said.
Ms Morton said investing in youth justice programs would save the community money in the long run.
Treasurer Dave Tollner’s valedictory budget allocated $1.5 million for security at Darwin Local Court and Youth Court, $2.2 million for information technology upgrades at Alice Springs Correctional Centre and $4.2 million over two years to expand the electronic monitoring program.
The State Government’s O-Bahn extension project faces a potential cost blowout with local councils reluctant to contribute to the $7-8 million cost of a pedestrian bridge over Hackney Road.
Last month, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) chief executive Michael Deegan sent a letter to the Adelaide City Council and the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters asking for $1 million from each council to help construct the footbridge near St Peters’ College, which has also been asked for funding.
However, the Adelaide City Council will tonight consider advice from its administration urging the council to reject the request.
Norwood, Payneham and St Peters declined to contribute funds early this month.
A DPTI spokesperson told InDailythis morning that “without both councils’ support, the footbridge is unable to be delivered within the project budget”.
“The pedestrian bridge was proposed during early consultation on the O-Bahn project by local residents and stakeholders such as St Peters College,” the spokesperson said.
“Given these residents and the College are within the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters and they were seeking connection with the Parklands and the Adelaide City Council area, the Government requested both councils to contribute to the cost of the project.”
But city council staff argue that the proposed bridge is the responsibility of the State Government – and should be added to the formal scope of the O-Bahn extension project – because it would neither be owned by the city council nor be built in any part of its jurisdiction.
“Issues with ease of access that result from the impact of the [O-Bahn extension] project should be the responsibility of the proponents to resolve,” the administration’s recommendation reads.
“The area impacted by the construction of the proposed footbridge over Hackney Road to the east and west does not form any part of [city] council jurisdiction.
“The west side is controlled by the Minister for the Environment (Adelaide Botanic Gardens), with the east side within the boundaries of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters.”
According to the administration, the current pedestrian crossing arrangements for Hackney Road are adequate.
It has recommended that the council “acknowledge[s] the desire for importance of safe passage for pedestrians and ease of connectivity … [However] current construct of the road and median with identified crossing places allow for reasonable passage across Hackney Rd”.
City Council CEO Mark Goldstone was unavailable for comment, but Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Mayor Robert Bria told InDaily “it would be unreasonable to expect the ratepayers … to make a contribution”.
“We don’t consider it our responsibility to fund it, to the tune of $1 million, because it suggests only residents of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters are going to be using it.
“It’s a major, arterial road.
“People from right across the state … will use this bridge.”
The Government also indicated last month is would be asking St Peter’s College to make a contribution to the footbridge build.
The school sent a statement to InDaily this afternoon:
“St Peter’s College is concerned about the safety of the whole community crossing Hackney Road both now and post the implementation of the O’Bahn development,” it says.
“We are looking forward to the State Government’s plan to address the safety of residents crossing this major arterial road particularly as the Hackney Road corridor increases in population in alignment with the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.”