A private school admits to inadequate treatment of a sexual misconduct complaint.

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A independent girls’ boarding school in Auckland has acknowledged that it refused to investigate sexual misconduct charges between a faculty member and a 16-year-old pupil more than 20 years ago.

James Tibbles, a former faculty member, retired from the school in 1998 and from Auckland University in December of last year due to related charges.

Hayley Buckley, chair of the St Cuthbert’s Trust Board, said in a statement that the staff member was fired and later retired shortly after a 1998 complaint.

“While we do understand that the college made genuine efforts to address what happened at the time, we acknowledge that the college’s investigation in 1998 and subsequent actions were not good enough,” she said.

She added that the process did not prioritise the victim’s welfare.

“We would like to express our deepest empathy to the other brave women from another institution who have also come forward in relation to this person’s behaviour. No student or young woman should ever be put in this position and what happened was an appalling abuse of trust.

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“What happened at St Cuthbert’s should not have been kept confidential, and we would handle allegations of this nature very differently today.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the University of Auckland said a former student made serious allegations against Mr Tibbles in November last year.

“The University took the complaint very seriously and Mr Tibbles was immediately stood down and advised of an investigation against him into a matter of potential serious misconduct.

“In accordance with University policy, the Vice-Chancellor appointed two senior staff members as independent delegates to conduct an investigation into the allegations.”

Tibbles resigned at an investigation meeting in December.

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