Downlands College whistle-blower felt ‘threatened’ after sex assault claim
A former student of a prestigious Toowoomba private school says she was bullied and intimidated by classmates after blowing the whistle on an alleged sexual assault, and that school administrators did not do enough to protect her.
The girl was pulled from Downlands College late last week by her mother, after the pair said the school failed to shield her from harassment and threats of physical violence after she reported the incident.
Police are currently investigating the formal allegation, which was made by a different student against a classmate.
After reporting the incident to school administrators earlier this month, the student said she and her friends were confronted by a group of male classmates who harassed her for lodging a report.
“(One boy) starts screaming in my face, using vulgar language,” she said.
“The boys were getting together and talking about us, in a derogatory way.
“(A boy) told one of my friends that even though she was a girl, he could still hit her.”
The girl along with her mother and friends took the concerns to school administrators.
They also protested the penalty the school had administered to the alleged offender.
“We tried to highlight that (students) had threatened us, and we did not feel safe,” the girl said.
“We got other girls to speak about how they were intimidated.
“(The school) just dismissed the whole thing, said we needed to trust the process and that everyone deserved a second chance.”
The student said certain school staff also actively warned her against speaking out on the matter, with one faculty member saying it could affect her chances of getting into another school.
It is also understood staff shut down a planned protest on school grounds last week.
The girl’s mother said the entire experience raised serious concerns about school’s approach to whistle blowers.
“I will not have her bullied and treated horribly because she stood up for other girls,” she said.
“I will not have my daughter at a school who condones this behaviour.”
SCHOOL RESPONDS TO SITUATION
Downlands College principal Stephen Koch said the school was aware of the incident.
“We are aware of serious allegations in relation to the conduct of a student at the college,” he said in a statement.
“At Downlands College, we take all allegations seriously as our foremost concern is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students.
“All staff at our college hold dear this duty of care.
“As soon as the college became aware of the allegations, they were reported by the college to the Queensland Police Service.
“We are co-operating with their investigation and providing pastoral care support for those students involved.
“As this is an ongoing QPS investigation, we are unable to comment further and we have been directed not to take any steps that would interfere with the QPS investigation.
“It is important that we follow the QPS guidance and do not pre-empt or speculate on the findings of their investigation.
“Downlands is an independent MSC and Catholic college built on strong traditions and values with senior role models who encourage students to make wise choices at all times.
“We want our students to do well at school, and also in life, by being good people – strong in mind, spirit, and faith.
“We will be monitoring the situation and will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the ongoing positive education experience, safety, and wellbeing of all our students.”
Originally published as Downlands College whistle-blower felt ‘threatened’ after sex assault claim