Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft has suspended the chaplain of prestigious Mount Lawley Anglican girls’ school Perth College from pastoral duties, pending the outcome of child pornography charges.
Forty-year-old Matthew David O’Meara has been charged with two counts of possessing child pornography, after the police online exploitation squad was alerted to a thumb drive at the school which allegedly contained child exploitation material.
There has been no suggestion any students were involved in the matter, but would you want your child being taught by him? Or even in the same street as him?
Archbishop Herft said this afternoon that Rev O’Meara would have his licence to perform pastoral duties suspended pending the outcome of the criminal inquiry. He should also be publicly flogged.
“The diocese has been working with the school since late last week to respond to the professional standards and pastoral issues arising from the police investigation,” Archbishop Herft said.
“The Archbishop accepted the recommendation of the Director of Professional Standards that Matthew’s licence be suspended pending the outcome of the criminal inquiry. The Diocesan Bishops of the Australian Church have been informed of this decision.
It would be nice if it was all a mistake but the police wouldn’t be this heavily involved for nothing.
“As the matter is the subject of a police investigation it is not appropriate to make any further comment. Please keep all those involved in dealing with this matter in your prayers.”
Perth College principal Jenny Ethell said this afternoon the matter first came to the school’s attention on Friday and she was advised Rev O’Meara had been charged on Friday night.
Ms Ethell said the school notified parents of its students last night. She said students and staff were addressed yesterday, and there was no evidence to suggest any students had been involved in the matter.
“As principal, a mother and a parent of a girl at this school, this incident is obviously distressing,” Ms Ethell said.
“But I can say with my hand on my heart, the school has acted swiftly, decisively and above all ethically and fairly on this matter, and always with the well being of out girls as the primary focus.”
When asked how the school explained the matter to students, Ms Ethell said “honestly, openly and transparently”.
“With facts, and not emotion. We put necessary support measures in place for our whole student community, and of course our staff and parent communities.”
Ms Ethell said until recent events, Rev O’Meara’s services had been “excellent”. She said Rev. O’Meara worked at the college since February, adding he previously came from Melbourne and was ordained about two years ago.
Perth College released a statement this morning, saying the school “confirms with regret” that Rev O’Meara had been charged.
“We respect that Rev O’Meara is entitled to the presumption of innocence in the face of these proceedings,” Perth College said.
“As criminal proceedings have been commenced, and the matter is before the court, the college is unable to make any further statement at this time.
“In the mean time, our highest priority is the wellbeing of our students, parents, staff and broader school community.”
Rev O’Meara has been bailed to attend the Perth Magistrate’s Court on September 2.