Boy (13) allegedly sexually assaulted by pupils at boarding school

Garda, Tusla examine claim student attacked with hockey stick at King’s Hospital school

The Garda and child and family agency Tusla are investigating an alleged incident at a major Dublin boarding school, following a claim that a 13-year-old boy was sexually assaulted in a dormitory with a hockey stick by eight other pupils.

The incident is alleged to have taken place late last Thursday night at the 450-year-old Church of Ireland-governed King's Hospital secondary school in Palmerstown.

However, it was not reported to the Garda, Tusla, or the Church of Ireland authorities until Tuesday.

Dr Ken Fennelly, secretary to the Church of Ireland Board of Education, who said he had not been told of the allegations until he was informed of them on Tuesday by The Irish Times, said Tusla and An Garda Síochána had begun investigations.

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The eight pupils will remain suspended until investigations are completed, said Mr Fennelly. However, the 13-year-old alleged victim will remain on in school, with the agreement of his parents. The school board will also meet.

Investigation confirmed

Following a series of questions over two days to the school, its principal,

John Rafter

yesterday confirmed Tusla’s investigation: “No further statement will be made by the school at this time,” he said.

The school's 24-strong board of governors includes the Church of Ireland's primate Archbishop Richard Clarke; the Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, as well as Bishop of Meath and Kildare Pat Storey. None was available for comment as the church's bishops are currently on retreat.

Under child protection rules, people with knowledge of child abuse or neglect are expected to lodge reports “without delay” to the authorities, while reports should be made directly to the gardaí if a child remains at immediate risk of danger.

In February 2008, King’s Hospital and Swim Ireland agreed to pay substantial damages after a 10-year dispute to 13 female victims of convicted sex abuser Derry O’Rourke, who had been employed by the school as a swimming coach.

Under the settlement, 12 of the victims each received six-figure payments and costs against the school, while the remaining victim got a lesser sum. They had claimed the school was vicariously liable for O’Rourke’s actions.

They claimed O’Rourke was employed by the school as its swimming coach and pool manager, but that he was allowed to remain despite complaints having being made about him to the school on several occasions from 1973.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times