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Child porn: principal investigated

Date: October 06, 2004
Source: The Australian

A CATHOLIC school principal from a Victorian seaside town has been stood down as police investigate allegations he accessed child pornography on the Internet.

Terry Wescott, of St Therese Catholic primary school at Torquay, south-west of Melbourne, was interviewed over the allegations yesterday but has not been charged, the Catholic Education Office said today.

Mr Wescott, who has worked at the school for 16 years, has been stood down and parents have been advised of the investigation, his employer, parish priest Father Greg Trythall, said.

"I've sent a letter home to parents regarding the Torquay police (who) have interviewed the principal of our school, Mr Terry Wescott, in relation to possible internet access of child pornography," Fr Trythall told radio station 3AW today.

"All I can say is that I'm deeply shocked, and I couldn't be more surprised.

"I was unprepared for it. It's a bombshell to me."

Catholic Education Office Victorian director Susan Pascoe said the principal was being investigated over child-porn possession and had been stood down from his position.

"We were notified by the police late yesterday morning that they were going to the school to interview the principal and to seize his computer," Ms Pascoe told ABC radio in Melbourne.

"They took him to the Torquay police station and interviewed him for two hours and ... formal charges have (not yet) been laid but he is certainly under investigation.

"The principal, I think himself, is in shock."

About 100 parents were handed a statement about Mr Wescott's situation at a meeting at the school last night.

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The statement added police did not believe any student from St Therese had been compromised.

"In keeping with Catholic Education Office Melbourne protocols, Mr Wescott will stand down from his position as principal pending the outcome of the police investigations," the statement read.

Eighty-eight Victorians have been questioned in the wake of Operation Auxin, Australia's biggest ever crackdown on child pornography.

Another Catholic teacher was stood down on Monday over allegations he possessed child pornography.

Lachlan Wallin, a 26-year-old teacher at St Simon's Catholic Primary School in Rowville, was stood down after it was revealed he was being investigated by police over alleged possession of child pornography.

A Victoria Police spokesman said investigators had executed 96 search warrants and seized 177 computers for forensic examination.

Almost 160 Victorian detectives, including members of the Sexual Crimes and Computer Crime squads, were involved in the investigation, which would continue for "several months", the spokesman said.

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2005-02-27 17:10:01 - It's guilty before a trial with pages like... z80
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