The silence makes the school complicit

As we find out more and more about the sordid creepy and disgusting life of Robert Burrett we find out the complicity of the unions and the schools in his offending.

Whether it was through silence, or through active interference, they certainly enabled him to continue offending.

A school that sacked Robert Burrett as its caretaker for inappropriately touching a girl was told by lawyers the incident did not warrant a police complaint.

Burrett continued to drive a taxi-bus for disabled children for another month – until one of them said something to a parent that rang alarm bells. He was arrested soon after.

In February, Burrett, 64, admitted 21 charges, including the rape, sodomy, forced oral sex and indecent assault of girls aged five to 12. He is scheduled for sentencing on April 12.

Burrett offended from 2013 to 2015 while he worked as a caretaker for the Christchurch school and drove a taxi-bus that took disabled children to and from at least two others.

The reason for the termination of his 10-hour a week caretaker contract on February 25 last year has been shrouded with secrecy, until now.  

In a statement on Tuesday, lawyer David Beck said the school’s principal was alerted on February 23 to a complaint that Burrett had inappropriately touched a child.

The board sought immediate legal advice and then interviewed the parties involved, Beck said.

It found that Burrett, who admitted giving the child a hug, had acted inappropriately.

Lawyers told the school the incident warranted the termination of his caretaker contract, but not a criminal complaint, Beck said.

It did not notify the Ministry of Education and was not required to do so.

Police contacted the school on March 24 seeking information about an unrelated complaint that had been laid about Burrett.

That same day he was stood down and resigned from his job driving a ministry contracted taxi-bus. Three of his disabled passengers were later identified as victims.

Beck said the ministry first sought information from the school about Burrett on March 27.

That school is as culpable as Robert Burrett was in his crimes. They should be apologising profusely to their victims.

Their failure to report his actions led directly to his continued offending against children.


– Fairfax

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