herald

Sunday 30 April 2017

Gardai try to establish if 'sex assaults' at boarding school happened before

The King's Hospital school said in a statement that it has adhered to policies concerning the reporting of the incident
The King's Hospital school said in a statement that it has adhered to policies concerning the reporting of the incident

Gardai investigating an alleged sexual assault on a boy at a prestigious west Dublin boarding school are trying to establish if similar incidents happened there in the past.

The revelation comes as a major gardai probe continues into allegations that a 13-year-old student was sexually ­assaulted in the dormitory of The King's Hospital school in Palmerstown on Thursday of last week.

Last night a senior source said: "Everything is being looked at here, including if similar incidents happened in that same location in the past."

Gardai have not yet formally interviewed any of the eight male pupils who have been suspended since the shocking allegation came to light.

Social workers will also speak to those students.

Recorded

Officers are also expected to analyse mobile phones belonging to some of the teenagers after reports that the assault had been recorded on at least two devices.

Due to an apparent four-day delay in the reporting of the incident to gardai, it has emerged that gardai fear key evidence may have been tampered with.

The school responded to these allegations last night in a statement but did not clarify when the report was made.

The statement said: "Management and staff have actioned the correct procedures and requirements, including liaising with the appropriate agencies."

The school also denied contacting the child and family agency, Tusla, with a "hypothetical" situation before reporting the incident, or defying legal advice.

"The safety, health and welfare of the student concerned and all students have, from the very outset, been and will continue to be the priority for every member of staff at The King's Hospital," the statement said. "The management and staff have actioned the correct procedures and requirements, including liaising with the appropriate agencies.

"We also ensured that the parents of the alleged victim and of the students allegedly involved were briefed as soon as possible. At no stage did the management and staff fail to act on legal advice.

"Neither did the school seek advice from the State agencies by using hypothetical scenarios."

It is understood the school made attempts to contact social workers at the Tusla Cherry Orchard office on the Friday and again last Monday morning.

This is in line with protocol that alleged incidents must be notified to local area social workers.

Concerns

Asked to respond last night, a spokeswoman for Tusla said it does not comment on individual cases.

However, she said:"Tusla responds immediately to all child protection concerns."

She said clear guidance on reporting a concern to Tusla is provided on its website.

"This clearly states that, where someone wishes to report a child protection concern ­outside of office hours, they should contact An Garda Siochana."

Specialist gardai are expected to interview the eight ­suspended male pupils as part of an investigation, which is being led by officers based in Lucan.

Sources said there was ­"pandemonium" at the school following the discovery of the alleged incident.

The teenage victim is believed to have received medical attention after the incident.

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