Cult school scrutinised

Illawarra Mercury (Australia)/July 9, 2005
By Megan Levy

THE NSW Board of Studies will investigate a private school established by a Nowra doomsday cult after cult leader William Kamm was convicted of sexual assault.

Acting NSW Education Minister David Campbell said the investigation would review the safety of the students at St Joseph's School after Kamm's conviction on Friday.

It will also examine the school's registration, which entitles it to hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funding.

"In light of these convictions, the Board of Studies will undertake an independent investigation of St Joseph's School," Mr Campbell said.

"We need to ensure that the school is a safe environment and that the students are properly protected."

However Kamm's followers say the school, which operates inside the Order of St Charbel's Cambewarra compound and has about 30 students enrolled, is independent of Kamm.

"The school has no link whatsoever with Mr Kamm. It's totally separate, a separate company. I don't believe it will (impact on the school's funding)," Order of St Charbel member James Duffy said.

Kamm, also known as the Little Pebble, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

He told the girl she had been chosen as one of his 12 queens who would spawn a new holy race when the world ended.

The three-week trial was told Kamm passionately kissed the girl, had fondled her breasts and had masturbated her on one occasion when she lived within the community. The offences dated back to 1993.

The Vatican has outlawed Kamm, who says he receives messages from the Virgin Mary, after a canonical investigation rejected his claims of supernatural visions.

Kamm will appeal his conviction.

St Joseph's School is situated within a high-security compound built by Kamm, and has attracted $332,000 in federal funding since 1996, and receives thousands more in State Government funding.

Mr Duffy was reluctant to comment on Kamm's conviction.

"Well, I don't really know. This has been dragging on all of that time. I believe ... they will be going for an appeal. We'll just leave it at that, we'll leave it to the legal eagles," he said.

St Joseph's School principal David Williams said: "At this stage I'm not prepared to make any comment."

A spokesman for Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson said schools were entitled to Federal Government grants based on their registration with the NSW Board of Studies, and referred the matter back to the State Government.

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