Education department facing lawsuits over historic child sexual abuse

The state’s department of education is facing a number of lawsuits after it knowingly moved a paedophile teacher to new schools following a complaint of sexual abuse at a Warrnambool school.

Arthur Henry Eaton was convicted in 1996 of 25 counts of indecently assaulting nine boys at Warrnambool West Primary and Derinya Primary in Frankston.

Historic court documents show Eaton sexually abused a then 12-year-old male victim during a private reading lesson at the Warrnambool school in mid-1992.

Arnold Thomas & Becker associate lawyer Georgia Sneddon said the report resulted in Eaton being shuffled to different schools, including Derinyra Primary School where he went on to sexually
abuse at least four other children.

The law firm has filed several civil law claims against the department on behalf of five men. Ms Sneddon said the department’s failure to remove Eaton as a
teacher, despite knowing of his propensity to abuse students, led to at least four other children being sexually assaulted.

“Shifting the problem to another school has led to immeasurable harm,” she said.

“We can see from the cases of our clients that there have been repeated failures on the part of the Department of Education and its staff to identify risks, to mitigate those risks, to support the students who had been offended against and to protect other children at the school from the abuser.”

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