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Geelong Grammar, Student Suicides, and Silence – Part 4 of Gumshoe’s Royal Commission Series


commission2The Royal Commission’s lifespan is 2013 to 2017

by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

Part 1 of this series looked at cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. Part 2 was about the Catholic hierarchy; Part 3 tried to explain who runs the bishops. In this fourth part, I go over the case of Geelong Grammar. It is a prestigious boarding school – you may recall that Charles, the Prince of Wales, attended Timberlake in his youth — one of the four campuses of Geelong.

In 2006, Philippe Trutmann, a boarding-house assistant at Highton House, was convicted of molesting 40 students from 1985 to 1995. Imagine! A decade of harm to kids, and no one on the staff resolved this problem. Ultimately Trutmann served a six-year sentence. No one was punished for cover-up.

The cover-up is what this Royal Commission is all about. Its mandate is to investigate “institutional responses” to child sexual abuse. The main institutional response has been cover-up, i.e., suppressing any reports that were made.

In Part 2, concerning the Catholic hierarchy, I hinted that the way members of the hierarchy are behaving in the witness box is quite revealing. I went so far as to suggest that the bishops don’t really work for the church – they may be infiltrators who answer to a different god, namely a CIA-type thing.

Now let’s see what happened at a non-religious private school, Geelong Grammar.

Geelong Grammar, Particularly Highton House

So here we had the perpetrator Philippe Trutmann earning his living as a boarding-house assistant. He apparently never missed a chance to visit 13-year-old boys when they were supposed to be asleep. Yet he was able to do this – pardon the word – unmolested.

I say it is impossible that Robert Bugg, Master of Highton House, did not know, as there had been many complaints. Pretend it was you who were the housemaster and pretend that you stayed mum — and even at this very public Commission hearing you said “I knew nothing.” Think: what could be your motives for the tight-lip routine?

Of course I don’t really know. When I attended the grilling of Bugg in October 24, 2015, it was my first exposure to this business. I was impressed by the temerity of the housemaster. Although he has a noticeable stutter, he did not look like he would break down under questioning. At times he threw up his hands as if to say “Why ask me such a foolish question?”

It was put to him that a certain student, code-named BIW (a now middle-aged survivor, who was sitting only meters away from the witness box) had been expelled from Geelong because he reported the sexual abuse! His mother was nevertheless asked to pay the outstanding tuition fee of $2500.

The mother spoke to a barrister who said he’d be keen to fight the case in order to “air the issue.” At that point, the request for the $2500 was quickly dropped by Geelong. Pretty indicative that the school felt guilty, eh? But, no, again we get the look of defiant innocence from Robert Bugg.

The Music Teacher

The next man to enter the witness box was an elderly fellow who had run Geelong’s large music department. An adolescent girl had complained about a clarinet teacher cornering her in the small music room, and making advances. So the question was, did the departmental boss know?

He said No and treated the commission arrogantly, even contemptuously. Honest, he acted like he knew better than they. He had “no recollection of this girl whatsoever.”  So then the Counsel asked “This girl’s family donated a piano to the school. Surely you recall that?”

What do you think he said? If you think he said “Ah yes, now I can picture her,” you’re not paying attention. The point is: the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been pure cover-up. He couldn’t recall the girl, piano-gift or no piano-gift.

(Note: These men may have been coached in how to answer the questions. And I suppose their coach could have thrown in a bit of hypnosis to help them lose their memory of the events….)

Student Suicide 

This is from The Age, September 4, 2015:

Catherine Parsons, who has worked as a matron and nurse at Geelong Grammar on and off since the 1980s, told the commission on Thursday that several boys had died from suicide and drug overdoses after being abused by Trutmann. And other boys “continue to suffer with drug and alcohol problems, homelessness and a living hell.”

She wept as she told of one boy, who died in 1994 from a heroin overdose. She suspected the boy had been abused by Trutmann, because his behaviour had spun out of control the previous year after he stayed at the Trutmann family home near Ballarat, when he was 15.

Mrs Parsons said she had repeatedly told the master and deputy master of the Highton boarding house that Trutmann ‘continually flouted’ school rules that adults should not be left alone with children.  [Emphasis added]

Now here is the really strange, sad story of Mr Claridge. I said above that BIW got expelled, only 3 weeks into his boarding career at Highton House, when he dared to tell what happened to him. In his testimony for the Royal Commission, BIW said that the deputy housemaster, Paul Claridge “exploded” at him.

The year was 1989 and sex was not such a forbidden topic as it had been in the old days. Yet Claridge acted like the accusation couldn’t possibly be true, and implied that the boy was slandering the school.

But later Claridge’s own son committed suicide – and the Dad has begun to think it may have had to do with pedophilia. His boy died in 1997, having graduated form the school in 1986. He was a day student, but he had told his family that he hated Trutmann.

Blind Allegiance

At this point I am unable to know why Paul Claridge did not listen to the young BIW. Perhaps he implicitly understood that you’re not supposed to accuse the school of anything.

When Dee McLachlan wrote about the episode of Claridge exploding and about BIW’s getting kicked out of Geelong, she labeled it Blind Institutional Allegiance. She said:

“The expulsion case describes perfectly the blind faith and allegiance that people have for institutions that care for them.”

So for now I will add that to my list of possible explanations for cover-up of child sexual abuse: Blind Institutional Allegiance. Makes sense, as this must be an emotion that is connected to our ties-that-bind and you don’t want to jeopardize your ties.

Note: loyalty to one’s profession is a serious problem in medicine also. When I researched my book Consider the Lilies: A Review of 18 Cures for Cancer and Their Legal Status, I found many a scandal lurking in the medical field, but very few physicians want their voice to be heard condemning it. Time and time again I was surprised by the silence.

Not Free Men

In my on-the-spot report of the Geelong hearings, in Gumshoe News of October 25, 2015, I claimed that when I looked at these arrogant men in the witness box I felt “They are not free men.” I speculated that they are programmed in some way. The music head in particular seem to me to be completely unable to break down and say “OK, OK, I did know about the problem.”

I’ve now attended more of the Commission’s work. I’ve been able to attend it in my living room, as it’s live-streamed. (But now on summer recess until February 5, 2016.) Thus I have had the opportunity to query whether the diocesan hierarchy of the Catholic Church seems different than the upper staff of a secular boarding school.

Frankly I do not see much to distinguish them from the private school leaders. So I must leave the matter for further analysis later.


In sum, the 3 parts of the series have yielded the following:

  1. The cover-up in Watchtower Australia (i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses) was seen to be in accord with that Church’s protocols about reporting only to the elders, and having a judicial committee investigate only cases for which there is a witness. I gave no thought to that Church’s connection to any other entity.
  1. In the case of the Catholic cover-up I have hypothesized a CIA-type connection. As a Catholic, I can’t figure out any other way to understand how these guys are telling blatant lies on the witness stand. (I mean the “I have no recollection” theme.) I deduced that the Church is infiltrated.
  1. In regard to Geelong Grammar, I have no theory. In October, it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe persons outside the school were involved. Now, though, Senator Heffernan has reacted to Fiona Barrett’s notice that schools in NSW were connected to a ring that involved the NSW police. Geelong is in Victoria, not NSW, but this bears looking into.

Senator Heffernan’s Request

Senator Bill Heffernan has said he will ask Attorney General George Brandis to extend the terms of the Royal Commission on the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse – to include the legal fraternity – judges as well as lawyers – by adding “the institution of law.” I believe the terms of reference are already able to catch that category. Have a look at the definition of ‘institution’ below. I have added bolding to prove my point:

Letters Patent

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth….

WHEREAS all children deserve a safe and happy childhood.

AND Australia has undertaken international obligations …. [regarding] reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow up of incidents of child abuse.

AND all forms of child sexual abuse are a gross violation of a child’s right to this protection and a crime under Australian law ….

AND it is important that claims of systemic failures … be fully explored….

AND noting that, without diminishing its criminality or seriousness, your inquiry will not specifically examine the issue of child sexual abuse …., but that any recommendations you make are likely to improve the response to all forms of child sexual abuse in all contexts.

NOW THEREFORE We do, by these Our Letters Patent … appoint you to be a Commission of inquiry, and require and authorise you, to inquire into institutional responses to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters, and in particular….

c. what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that currently exist for responding appropriately to child sexual abuse ….

AND We direct you to make any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you consider appropriate, including recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms. [!!!!!]

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to have regard to the following matters:

e. the experience of people directly or indirectly affected by child sexual abuse ….

f. the need to focus your inquiry and recommendations on systemic issues, recognising nevertheless that you will be informed by individual cases and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases;

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you … to consider the following matters, and We authorise you to take (or refrain from taking) any action that you consider appropriate arising out of your consideration:

i. the need to establish mechanisms … for the purpose of enabling the timely investigation and prosecution of offences;

m. the need to ensure that institutions and other parties are given a sufficient opportunity to respond to requests and requirements for information, documents and things, including, for example, having regard to any need to obtain archived material.

AND We appoint you, the Honourable Justice Peter David McClellan AM, to be the Chair of the Commission….

AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent:

child means a child within the meaning of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989.

institution means any public or private body, agency, association, club, institution, organisation or other entity or group of entities of any kind (whether incorporated or unincorporated), and however described,

official, of an institution, includes:…

vi. any representative (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and

vii. any member, officer, employee, associate, contractor or volunteer (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and…

ix. any other person who you consider is, or should be treated as if the person were, an official of the institution.

IN WITNESS, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.

WITNESS Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Dated 11th January 2013


By Her Excellency’s Command

Prime Minister

This series of Gumshoe articles is to be continued. Instructions for persons wishing to give testimony are found here, or by calling 1-800-099-340.

— Mary W Maxwell is a graduate of University of Adelaide Law School. As shown in her 2015 book “Fraud Upon the Court,” she is seeking to discover what the law is all about.



  1. Amazon has this review by Suzanne Covich of Denis Ryan’s “Unholy Trinity.” (2013)

    Denis Ryan’s deeply moving story …Transferred from Melbourne to Mildura as a young police detective in the 1960’s …The layers upon layers of lies and deceit, along with the betrayals by senior members of the Victorian police and the Mildura Clerk of the Courts in the 1960’s and 70’s, who colluded with the Catholic Church to cover up.

    Denis Ryan gathered a string of documented statements of Mildura victims’ stories as he became increasingly aware of the extent of Monsignor John Day’s crimes. Ryan spoke up, tried to get help. But rather than bring this priest to justice, the Catholic Church affirmed the Monsignor’s ‘good’ name and members of the Victorian police did all in their power to intimidate and silence Ryan.

  2. This sort of thing is exactly the reason, I believe, for the social custom of sending young boys to boarding school. I believe this custom is still practiced, at least for the children of the “elite” and possibly others who receive scholarships. This is part of an indoctrination program, which in some cases produces future abusers and fearful men to carry on the custom. The fearful men, I assume, are some of the young boys who were bullied and abused and will be afraid to speak up against the practice.

    I certainly hope this custom is winding down and will soon end permanently.

  3. That’s my dad your talking about and my dead brother. Reason why? So many reasons, and the way you wrote this article is nothing short of narrow minded and uneducated. I was there that day so watch what you say and honestly your so off track please never write anything again.

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