Parents sue: Gang bashing scandal rocks elite school
An elite Queensland college and its principal are being sued after four boys were expelled for a gang bashing in response to a fellow student allegedly sexting another's girlfriend.
Four well-heeled parents have hit back following the expulsions from Brisbane Boys' College last month, seeking up to $750,000 in a negligence claim in which they say the 118-year-old school failed to offer a service that was better than the state school system.
John De Stefani, Tam Elabbasi, Jacinta Wrakuale and Ingrid Dimock, argue their sons' expulsions were unfair because they boys were not afforded basic rights and protections - such as an adult support person - during formal interviews by three senior teachers during the investigation into the gang bashing claim.
They claim school staff tried to force confessions, that allegations of sexting were not investigated and BBC should pay for therapy and for new school enrolments for each boy.
The parents argue in their claim that they believed the school would offer a high standard of education and care for their boys because the BBC Manifesto boasts: "We will help you develop, evolve and find your special place in the world."
They are also asking for repayment of their school fees, which cost nearly $25,000 per year in 2020 for Years 7 to 12.
The four boys are alleged to have bashed another student on a school sports fields on September 8 after they learned he had allegedly been bombarding a classmate's girlfriend with explicit texts and photos.
It was commonly known by BBC students that the boy had been sending sexually explicit images via text message or social media to girlfriends, female friends and sisters of various students at the school and other schools, court documents state.
The court claim alleges the boys were expelled on September 17 in separate meetings with the school's headmaster Paul Brown.
During his formal interview with BBC staff on September 11, Mr Elabbasi's son was allegedly "requested to confess to conducting himself in a particular way in respect of (the alleged victim) and to be honest, as the matter would get worse if he did not".
BBC has 1500 day and boarder students and they still wear old-fashioned boater hats.
It is run by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association, which has been besieged by controversy in recent years, including the shock resignation of Clayfield College principal Kathy Bishop, and last year parents and alumni demanding the axing of the "old guard".
Last year BBC and the PMSA admitted a rowing coach they sacked for telling his squad not to twirl their "wangers" had never done anything wrong.
The coach, David Bellamy, won a five-year legal battle to clear his name against the PMSA and a confidential settlement said to top $1m.
The District Court claim relating to the alleged gang bashing states that Mr De Stefani's son was expelled despite denying any involvement during his formal interview with middle school head David Bell, teacher Tim Harris and school discipline officer Trevor "Sarge" Evans.
At a second interview three days later Mr De Stefani's son was allegedly told that others had implicated him in the gang bashing, but he continued to deny his involvement.
During his formal interview with the school staff Mr Elabbasi's son said he had told the sexting boy that he thought sending photos and texts to girls was inappropriate
Mrs Dimock's son was asked to sign a seven-page document that he had not been allowed to read before signing, the claim states.
The claim states that Mr Elabbasi's son agrees he tackled the sexting boy during a game of soccer on September 8, but the pair continued playing afterwards.
The claim states that another student also later tackled the sexting boy on the oval. This student was not one of the boys who has been expelled.
Mr Bell told parent Mr Elabbasi on September 9 a gang bashing had occurred at school.
Mr Bell also allegedly told the school students during assembly that a student had been gang bashed.
The parents and their lawyer did not respond to attempts to contact them.
Mr Brown did not return calls seeking comment.
The school has not filed a defence to the claims. No date has been set for hearing.