Tonsil-test teacher charged with indecent assault

TONY WALL
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2013

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Police charged an elderly Greymouth high school teacher with indecent assault over a tonsilitis examination he did on a 14-year-old girl.

The Sunday Star-Times reported last month that Andrew McCarthy, 66, a part-time science teacher at John Paul II High, had been under investigation by police and Child, Youth and Family for most of last year.

Initially the investigation centred on claims he was telling inappropriate stories in class, and then looked into the incident with the 14-year-old in March, 2010. The allegations came from a parent involved in a custody dispute with a relative of McCarthy's.

The principal, Kieran Stone, told the Star-Times he supported McCarthy, whom he believed had been the victim of a witch-hunt. He attacked the CYF investigation as unprofessional and said he had told the agency to "put up, or shut up".

CYF wrote to the school late last year to say it had finished its inquiry and had no concerns about the safety of children at the school.

But just before Christmas, McCarthy was issued with a summons to appear in the Greymouth District Court later this month on an indecent assault charge.

McCarthy, a well-known eccentric character on the coast, whose daughter died in the Cave Creek tragedy, said he was not concerned, as he believed he could prove his innocence.

Documents seen by the Star-Times show that the student, no longer at the school, complained to her GP at the time. The GP wrote to the school saying he was concerned that McCarthy had examined the girl without any informed consent, feeling her throat and under her armpits, with no chaperone present.

The principal at the time, Harold Leask, wrote back to the doctor saying McCarthy had in fact gained the girl's consent and that another staff member was present.

The girl had a habit of referring herself to the sick bay and McCarthy was trying to determine whether her claims of feeling sick were genuine.

"Having said this, all teachers are advised strongly not to touch any students and Mr McCarthy has assured me that these guidelines will be followed in future," Leask wrote.

The GP wrote back to say he believed McCarthy had acted with the "best of intentions", but he "had to accept that the student did not feel comfortable at all during this contact with you".

The trainee teacher who was present during the examination, Rudi Rupp, has given a statement to police saying nothing untoward happened.

Detective Gavin Nichols of Greymouth police would not comment on why the incident was now considered an indecent assault.

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- Sunday Star Times

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