Sex claims spread to Marist

The Canberra Times, Australia/July 21, 2007
By Kate Hannon

Allegations of sexual abuse of students by a former teacher at Daramalan College have spread to another Canberra Catholic school, Marist College, where the accused teacher had earlier worked for more than a decade.

Two former students of Marist College in Pearce have called on the school to acknowledge alleged sexual abuse of former students by two former teachers, one a Marist Brother, during the 1970s and 1980s.

A third former Marist student has in the past week contacted Porters Lawyers, which is representing former Daramalan College students in their action over alleged sexual abuse by former teacher Paul John Lyons.

Lyons, who committed suicide in 2000 after he was charged with the indecent assault of a 15-year-old male student at Daramalan College in 1989, taught at Marist College for about 12 years until he left for Daramalan in 1989.

Alleged sexual abuse by Lyons has already resulted in two undisclosed legal settlements, one of them in the past few months, for former students at the co-educational Catholic school in Dickson.

While at Daramalan, Lyons is known to have cultivated vulnerable boys by taking them on outings like skeet shooting or camping and often took small groups of students to his flat in Queanbeyan to watch movies.

Three more lawsuits seeking damages from the college have been lodged with the ACT Supreme Court and a fourth is currently in preparation by Porters Lawyers.

The two former Marist College students, now in their 30s, who contacted The Canberra Times this week, but requested their names not be revealed, allege Lyons displayed a similar pattern of behaviour during his time as a science teacher at Marist College from the late 1970s and during the 1980s.

One of the students said Lyons had befriended him and his family, often attending birthday parties and other family functions. He said when he was 14, Lyons would often take him out of class, without his parents' permission. They would drive around and talk and Lyons would buy him lunch at KFC at Woden.

"We'd just talk about life in general, but the conversation was always peppered with innuendo, sexual jokes," he said. "The jokes were all about blow jobs and head jobs and all that sort of thing."

He and a former Marist classmate praised Lyons as an excellent teacher and a caring friend, and denied they were sexually abused by Lyons.

But they said that while they had no proof of sexual abuse, they were now worried about other former students who were close to Lyons, some of whom had had nervous breakdowns and others who had taken their own lives.

"Marist must recognise there was a problem and do the right thing and say, 'Come forward now'. People are too scared until one comes forward," one of the men said.

"Twenty years later, of idolising the bloke, you're left thinking was it all just a sham, was he trying to get close to me?"

The Canberra Times contacted the principal at Marist College, Richard Sidorko, for a comment late yesterday but he did not respond.

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