School Warned Teacher 'Before Sex Abuse'

By Nick Henderson
The Advertiser [Australia]
July 8, 2006,5936,19718672%255E2682,00.html

A SCHOOL had given warnings to a religious studies teacher whom it knew had been acting inappropriately with female students just months before he had sex with two of them, a court has been told.

The District Court yesterday heard Sunil Francis Clark had sex with two students despite warnings from St Mark's College in Port Pirie about his behaviour around young girls.

The Catholic school had been told Clark had been "brazenly flirting" and talking about sex with 16-year-old students before his offending, it was alleged in court.

Clark, 33, of Elizabeth East, pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse by a teacher and one count of indecent assault in 2001.

In sentencing submissions, Rosemary Steen, prosecuting, told the District Court that Clark engaged in "predatory and exploitative" behaviour.

Mike Hegarty, for Clark, said the school should not have employed him, saying his emotional age was the same as those he sexually abused.

He told the court Clark believed he had met an "angel" and "kindred spirit" when he began a relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

"He fell in love with her," Mr Hegarty said.

In a statement written by Clark, who was a Sri Lankan orphan before being adopted and brought to Australia when he was aged three, he said "when (one of the victims) said that she was in love with me it was like a dream and a miracle come true".

"To me it felt like a dream, like something out of a movie where two lonely hearts had met, crossed boundaries that were tabooed and forged a love that would continue into the ages, healing both of them of their broken hearts," he wrote in the statement.

The court heard that when Clark, a deeply religious man who once trained to become a priest, split up with that victim he was on the "rebound" when he had sex with another girl, 16, in a classroom.

Both of Clark's victims told the court his offending had a huge impact on them, as he stared blankly and emotionless in the dock.

"I felt like my dignity and self-respect had been torn away," one girl said. "He made me feel worthless."

Another victim said she ran away from home and engaged in self-mutilation after the offending took place.

Judge Wayne Chivell revoked Clark's bail and remanded him in custody for sentencing.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.