April 11, 2015 - 8:40AM
Sydney Morning Herald
The man responsible for child protection in Queensland public schools has been charged with a series of child sex offences against students at two prominent Sydney private schools where he taught as a Catholic Brother in the 1980s.
Brett Anthony O'Connor, 52, is the director of child safety at Queensland's Department of Education and Training.
Last month, Mr O'Connor was charged by NSW detectives over indecent and sexual assaults allegedly committed against a 12-year-old boy when he was a Marist Brother at Sydney's prestigious St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill in 1987.
He was also charged with sexually and indecently assaulting a 12-year-old-boy at St Gregory's College, Campbelltown in 1989. Both colleges are large independent Catholic day and boarding schools for boys, run by the Marist Brothers.
Police said both matters were reported to them in late 2014.
On March 20, O'Connor was arrested at Tweed Heads Police Station and charged with four counts of indecent assault of a child aged 16 and under authority, and six counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 16 and under authority.
He was granted conditional bail, including a $5000 surety, to appear at Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday, April 13. He is to live at an address in Mount Gravatt, a suburb of Brisbane.
In 2013, he was engaged by Independent Schools Queensland to advise that sector on "creating safer independent schools". He spoke at a seminar on reporting sexual abuse, how to identify grooming behaviour and strategies for incorporating safety in the school curriculum.
A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Education and Training said in late March a public servant was suspended after a range of child-related offences were laid by NSW police. The spokesman said Mr O'Connor had a high level policy position, which did not involve direct contact with children on a regular basis.
"The department is not aware of any complaints made against the officer during his tenure with the department," the spokesman said.
"The matters raised are now the subject of court proceedings in NSW and the department will fully co-operate with NSW police as directed."
When contacted by the Fairfax Media, Mr O'Connor said he had taken "rec leave". When asked about the child sex charges he said: "I'm not prepared to answer any further questions."
The department is responsible for 1250 schools, staffed by more than 36 000 teachers and attended by almost 480,000 students. The state schooling system covers about 70 per cent of all Queensland school students.
Mr O'Connor is a registered psychologist. The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency said there are no conditions on his registration. His profile on www.goodtherapy.com.au said he specialised in adolescent psychology. The profile was taken down after Fairfax Media contacted Mr O'Connor.