School should be a place of joy for a student. It should be a place of learning, developing friendships and growing. Sometimes, however, sickening individuals take advantage of innocent and trusting students.
One such individual was Thomas Keady – a predator who preyed on students across NSW and Victoria.
Keady had served a 3-year jail term in Victoria for indecently assaulting a minor. After his release, Keady moved to NSW, where he then sought employment as a teacher at St Patrick’s College in Sutherland.
His career as a teacher allowed him to abuse children from the late seventies up until the 1990s. He had a previous conviction, and yet he gained employment working with children.
Surely, someone must have known what this monster was up to?
The principal of St Patricks College, Brother Anthony Whelan, knew. He knew and did nothing to stop Keady.
Throughout the 70s, multiple students came to the principal with complaints of sexual abuse.
Brother Whelan had heard multiple counts of abuse from different children throughout the 70s. Instead of reporting this monster to the police, he chose to quietly dismiss Keady in 1979.
Instead of accepting responsibility for hiring a paedophile, Brother Whelan told the children to tell their parents and take the matter to the police themselves.
Keady never faced justice for his sickening behaviour.
Whelan never handed him over to the police, so there was no official record of Keady’s abuse in NSW. Keady continued abusing children, unreported. It wasn’t until 1994, when another child spoke out about Keady’s abuse, that he was convicted. Brother Whelan never took any responsibility for ensuring Keady was kept away from children.
Keady created a mobile amusement park business after he was sacked from teaching. This gave him easy access to lots of excited, trusting children. He travelled around the Hunter and Central Coast with his jumping castles, merry-go-rounds, laughing clowns and lolly machines.
No one knows how many children were abused when Keady was running this business. One can only imagine.
Keady was sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour bond in 1994 for the indecent assault of a minor – he only received an 18-month good behaviour bond, avoiding prosecution due to mental illness. Because of Whelan’s inaction, several children were sexually and indecently assaulted.
And Whelan accepts zero responsibility for this.
Too often, people in positions of power neglect to take full responsibility for the actions of their employees. They do nothing to solve the issue and ensure those who have committed offences are referred to the police.
The children, now adults, have to live with the horrific actions of an unchecked monster for the rest of their lives – where is justice?
Brother Whelan went on to rise through the ranks of the Church, receiving an Order of Australia for his services to education. Instead of being sacked, The Christian Brothers and the Catholic Education Office liked what he was doing and promoted him to Commissioner for the Catholic Education Commission of NSW. He is now retired, living on Sydney’s North Shore.
And the survivors of abuse get to live with the knowledge that Whelan did nothing to prevent the abuse from occurring.
If you were abused by a teacher, Catholic, State or private school, the time to speak up is now. Teachers should no longer abuse their unfettered access to students.