An assistant school principal is facing charges of sexually abusing 15 students, and NSW Police detectives are claiming he groomed his alleged victims through a fake Facebook profile where he pretended to be a girl.
Shane Andrew Matthews is thought to have set up a profile through an unofficial school page on the social media site posing as a 15-year-old girl to befriend young boys.
According to the Daily Telegraph, tendered court documents suggest one victim was encouraged to send a number of images of himself to Matthews.
The 30-year-old now faces 90 charges of indecent assault and sexual abuse over a ten-year span. His alleged victims were aged between 10 and 12 at the time of the incidents, with most abused in classroom lessons or during private tutorials from 2011 to 2015.
Abuse allegations pile up
Matthews was originally arrested in September 2016 for 14 offences, but more alleged victims continue to come forward, which has led officers to add extra charges.
NSW Police believe Matthews gave students fake money that could be used to buy stationery at class auctions in exchange for sexual acts. Matthews had taught at Wattle Grove Public School for seven years, but moved to Woodland Road Public School in 2016 as an assistant principal.
Before the allegations came to light, Wattle Grove issued a newsletter regarding Matthews’ move, in which he was described as a “wonderful asset”.
“Mr Matthews has also proven to be a very popular teacher with the students in his care,” it read.
However, Detective Senior Constable Rob Potts said Matthews used his reputation as an upstanding teacher to gain the trust of parents, students and colleagues.
“Police believe the accused has been calculating, has planned the assaults, which have been deceptive in their nature. He befriended parents of vulnerable children,” Detective Senior Constable Potts added.
Matthews’ mother argues his innocence
In September, Matthews’ mother came to her son’s defence, claiming the allegations were unfounded.
“I pity every male teacher that is teaching in a school, from the day they walk into that classroom to the end of their life, wait for a knock on the door,” she said at the time.
Victims of sexual abuse that occurred in public schools or other institutions can seek compensation for the physical and psychological harm they suffered at the hands of their attackers.
To learn more, contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.