Tasmanian News

Child abusing teacher "had beers and dinner" with parents of victim

school hallway

A victim-survivor of notorious paedophile Darrel George Harington has told Tasmania's child abuse Commission of Inquiry, it was years before he truly realised what had happened to him as a 12-year-old.

Harington would eventually be jailed for preying on boys over three decades, but Education Department documents show he was moved between various schools amid numerous complaints years earlier.

Sam Leishman gave evidence at the hearing on Friday morning, describing how the science teacher gained the trust of his parents and the New Town High School community in the late 1970s.

"Like if there were a teacher-student football match or something like that, he'd always be the first one lining up to kick a ball around with the kids," he said. 

"I guess I felt a little bit singled out...he was particularly interested in my activities".  

Mr Leishman detailed being given permission to spend the day with Harington in late 1978, before he was abused at a Bellerive unit.

Harington then drove the 12-year-old back to his parents' home and was invited in for "beers and dinner" due to the high-regard in which the teacher was held.

Mr Leishman said it further cemented his feeling of being unable to say anything against the popular staff member.

He recalled the emotional moment years later when he saw then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard discussing the national Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

"I was just staggered because by that stage there were volumes and volumes and volumes of work that they had done and story after story and I started reading through them and I thought: shit, that happened to me.

"So it was sort of like a light-bulb moment."

Mr Leishman says he's been seeking answers from the Education Department on it's handling of Harington over the years.

Secretary Tim Bullard, who's already given evidence on two days this week, is again being grilled by the high-powered Commission on Friday.

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