Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane on Monday, February 17, 2014.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane on Monday, February 17, 2014. THURTELL PHOTOGRAPHY

No requirement to take sex abuse allegations further

THE head of the Catholic Education Office in Toowoomba has admitted there was no process in place requiring his delegates to advise him or his deputy of child sexual abuse allegations in the diocese.

Director John Borserio said there was also nothing in the student protection and risk management kit which required the diocese's two student protection officers Ian Hunter or Christopher Fry to report any allegations to him either.

The student protection and risk management kit was the primary manual used to protect students at 32 schools across the diocese.

Mr Borserio told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse on Friday  it was a deficiency in procedures he now regretted.

He went on to tell the commission he did not see any reports in relation to allegations against Gerard Vincent Byrnes prior to his arrest.

Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness asked Mr Borserio if he accepted that there were personnel at the school who did not have sufficient knowledge and skills to promote a safe working environment.

"I think they had the knowledge, but I think it was the application that was the issue," Mr Borserio said.

"They had the training, they had access to the resources."

Ms Furness went on to ask Mr Borserio whether the conduct of Byrnes at the school indicated a systemic failure on behalf of the Catholic Education Office in Toowoomba.

"Given the sad chapter in the school's life, I can only accept that," Mr Borserio said.

Mr Borserio spent two hours, under a barrage of questions, attempting to distance himself over whether he knew about the allegations against Byrnes before his arrest in November, 2008.

He told the commission he could "not recall" whether any parents asked the Catholic Education Office about prior allegations levelled against Byrnes during a meeting convened shortly after his arrest.

"I cannot recall if there were any questions asked," Mr Borserio said.

"I have no memory of that question being asked, I am sorry."

Ms Furness put to Mr Borserio it would be a perfectly reasonable question for parents to ask of his office.

"I accept that," he said.

Mr Borserio went on to tell the commission he did not seek any information from the Queensland Police Service over allegations after Byrnes' arrest.

"We had no contact with the police at all around that time," he said.

"In retrospect, I would have asked for that sort of information.

"No, I did not seek it and I am sorry I did not seek it.

"Maybe I expected it and I was wrong in that."

Mr Borserio is still the director at the Catholic Education Office in Toowoomba.



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