Deep regrets ... Marist College has rejected a call for a sex abuse victims' memorial at the school. Photo: Gary Schafer
Marist College has rejected an emotional plea by a child sexual abuse victim to install a permanent reminder to the decades of molestation of young boys at the school through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.
Nicholas Quaine, who studied at Marist from 1978 to 1986, suffered repeated sexual abuse at the hands of convicted sex offender Brother Kostka Chute.
Mr Quaine joined the student photography club, run by Brother Kostka, where he was molested in dark room sessions.
He won an out-of-court settlement against the school just weeks ago, after it admitted it had failed to properly protect him from Kostka’s abuse.
But the school has since rejected a request by Mr Quaine to install a plaque at the school to commemorate the victims and serve as a ‘‘permanent warning’’ to stop future abuse.
He has now made the difficult decision to speak publicly about his abuse, to try and lobby for the plaque, which he believes will protect future generations of Marist students.
‘‘It’s my conviction that if such a plaque were in place when I was at the school, I would have either been able to protect myself against the abuse, or I would have spoken up about it,’’ Mr Quaine said.
‘‘This sort of plaque will give kids the vocabulary to talk about it, talk about any kind of inappropriate behaviour, and it will arm them to protect themselves, because they’ll feel more comfortable talking about it if they know it has happened to other people,’’ he said.
Marist College said it was sympathetic to the idea, and that it deeply regrets the hurt caused to all victims of sexual abuse.
But the College Advisory Board and the school’s headmaster, Richard Sidorko, issued a statement saying the plaque could have a ‘‘negative impact’’ on the school body.
‘‘The Advisory Board does not believe that the erection of a plaque in relation to these matters would necessarily assist or advance today’s students’ needs and the college’s vigilance and, indeed, may have an unintended negative impact of giving rise to mistrust and fear.’’
The decision has angered Mr Quaine, who believes it shows the school has not changed its ‘‘behind closed doors’’ mentality, despite the decades of sexual abuse.
‘‘I’m disgusted and appalled [by] their lack of compassion for the victims, I’m appalled at their lack of foresight for future students, because basically they’re saying that the plaque ... is not necessary,’’ he said.
‘‘They have been forced by the law and lawyers to make payments [to victims], but it hasn’t fundamentally changed their outlook.’’
Brother Kostka was sentenced to a minimum of two years jail and one year of weekend detention in 2008.
Many victims, including Mr Quaine, then sued the school for damages, claiming it knew of prior cases of sexual assault, but had failed to react to protect other boys.
The college said it moved swiftly to resolve the claims of the victims, and deeply regrets what each of the students has suffered.
A number of claims are still outstanding, and the college said it would look at an appropriate way of remembering victims once those cases are finalised.