EXCLUSIVE: Almost a month after his arrest, the principal of Katoomba High School has finally alerted the community that popular maths teacher, sports coach and rugby union footballer, Gavin Malcolm Duncan, is facing serious sexual abuse charges. It comes as we take a closer look at goings-on at the school as well as the background of the poker-playing, chameleon-like teacher who was still employed despite being sentenced to prison for nine months just earlier this year. And as the scandal grows, the state’s education minister has remained silent.
The belated public announcement from the school’s principal, Jennifer Boyall, about the ever-growing scandal only eventuated after True Crime News Weekly had published an exclusive investigation into Duncan’s arrest mid this week. Prior to publishing, we had attempted to contact Ms Boyall over a number of days by text message, email and mobile phone seeking comment about her response to Duncan’s arrest on Thursday, July 4.
We had also informed Ms Boyall we wished to discuss with her concerning reports about a culture within the school, particularly teachers within its PE department, to engage in possibly questionable conduct with students where boundaries could be blurred.
We had also questioned her as to why no announcement had been made by the school about Duncan’s arrest for close to a month. Duncan had been a teacher at the school for five years, from 2014 until June of this year, and was said to be employed there until just a fortnight before his arrest.
The principal avoided all our attempts to contact her and did not provide an explanation as to why the school had by then yet to publicly notify anyone about the criminal matters involving Duncan. Nor did she refute any of the concerning reports about other issues within the school we had listed and detailed to her in writing.
It seems, though, our investigation had some kind of effect in the end.
Because a few hours after our investigative article was published, Ms Boyall finally released a short statement, late on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 24.
“Dear Parents and Carers,” the principal wrote in an email on school letterhead.
“I’m writing to you about a former Katoomba High School teacher who has been charged with serious criminal offences. Please be assured the safety and wellbeing of students is the school’s highest priority. We take our duty of care for your children very seriously. As soon as the Department was made aware of these serious allegations, the teacher was removed from the school.
“As this matter is before the courts, please understand school staff are unable to discuss this matter with you.
“Counselling support for students is available at the school. If you would like to access this service for your child, please contact your child’s year advisor, or if you have any other concerns please contact me.”
“I’m writing to you about a former Katoomba High School teacher who has been charged with serious criminal offences”: Principal Jennifer Boyall finally speaks out about her former hotshot teacher Gavin Malcolm Duncan but only after True Crime News Weekly exposed it all first (Image: Supplied)
And while not wanting to answer any of our questions, the school principal has since been busy getting on the PR offensive with the aid of her local newspaper. The school has seen enrolments almost double to 1,000 students under Ms Boyall’s leadership in recent years.
In an article in yesterday’s Blue Mountains Gazette published in response to our exclusive investigation, Ms Boyall claimed the school community had rallied behind her and the staff.
According to the newspaper: “Mrs Boyall said she had been “inundated with an overwhelming response of support” and a “clear message of ongoing respect of our staff”. She conveyed her “deepest thanks to the school community for their ongoing support during this very difficult time”.”
However, it has been reported to True Crime News Weekly that the school has instead gone into damage-protection mode, and has been viciously badmouthing this publication for revealing the shocking details of this important story that has been allegedly covered up by many who should know better.
One parent who contacted True Crime News Weekly said she was shocked that parents and others within the school community had been left in the dark for so long until our in-depth investigation.
“There has been next to no communication with parents regarding this matter, it was only when this news story came out did we get an email, and now it’s in the Blue Mountains Gazette,” the parent revealed.
“This has been going on for months apparently. As a parent I’m quite concerned.”
In a bid to seemingly protect themselves, some people connected to the school have begun to claim that they were under police orders not to reveal any details about Duncan’s arrest. While others have claimed the school only alerted parents this week because they were finally allowed to do so.
Those claims are patently false. There is no suppression order around the case, and indeed True Crime News Weekly contacted both NSW Police and NSW Justice a number of times during our investigation and prior to publishing. As is usual in a case like this, the media and anyone else for that matter is largely only precluded or suppressed from revealing details that may identify an alleged victim, not an alleged perpetrator, as well as engaging in any behaviours that may be in contempt of court. There was no law precluding the school from giving out basic details of Duncan’s arrest one week ago, two weeks ago, indeed, three weeks ago.
True Crime News Weekly had also given the school and NSW Department of Education three days to make comment about the situation either to the school community or to this very publication. They only finally acted after we published our article earlier this week. The email sent by Ms Boyall to parents was done so in response to the details we revealed publicly.
DO YOU KNOW MORE? CONTACT TRUE CRIME NEWS WEEKLY
In a further reaction to our investigation, it can be revealed the school held a meeting for all senior students in Years 10, 11 and 12 on Thursday, July 25.
But instead of deeply and truly reflecting on whether the school has acted appropriately, senior school personnel instead bullishly and publicly claimed they would be seeking to take defamation action against this publication and insultingly alleged that our evidence-based reporting was full of innuendo, smears and fake news.
At the same meeting, it has been alleged Ms Boyall began openly crying as did some other teachers, breaking down in front of students. If this was a meeting to help students process their trauma and begin to actively investigate any shortcomings, we would suggest things could have been done better. One can only hope such actions haven’t prevented other courageous students from speaking their truth, or speaking out on behalf of their peers, lest they make the adults around them get upset and cry.
A few hours after that meeting ended, True Crime News Weekly also happened to receive an abusive nuisance call from a woman who it turns out is heavily connected to the school’s P&C. She angrily accused this publication of promoting poor grammar, being “tabloid trash” and ruining the reputation of Katoomba High School. The person called under a false name but we have managed to ascertain her true identity.
WHY WAS GAVIN DUNCAN STILL AT KATOOMBA HIGH SCHOOL JUST BEFORE HIS ARREST?
Duncan was arrested by NSW Police on July 4 and charged with six counts of engaging in sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl under his care.
However, there are now growing questions as to why the errant teacher was even still employed by the school until just a week or two before his arrest. As it can also now be revealed that this isn’t Duncan’s first brush with the law.
Duncan is a well-known sportsman in Western Sydney, being a championship-winning first grade rugby union footballer with the Blue Mountains Rugby Club. His club currently plays in the Kentwell Cup, regarded as the premier suburban rugby competition in Sydney.
The high-profile teacher was also the Sydney West Rugby Union Convener for Secondary School (Public Schools).
By night, the teacher would also dabble as a party DJ at bars and nightclubs such as Penrith’s Peachtree Hotel.
It is believed the 32-year-old teacher was allowed to quietly resign in late June just prior to his arrest. It has been said his resignation was given and accepted by the school just after police had first interviewed Duncan or others connected to the school about their sexual abuse investigation.
For some reason, the teacher was still employed by Katoomba High School until just a few weeks ago despite being found guilty of unrelated but serious driving offences in early May of this year. He was convicted of driving while disqualified for the fifth time, resulting in a nine-month prison sentence, which Duncan was lucky enough to serve in the community by way of an Intensive Corrections Order.
A short court report published in the Western Weekender in May 2019 just two months before teacher Gavin Duncan’s arrest on much more serious sexual abuse charges (Image: Supplied)
We are revealing this information not to prejudice any current legal matters, but to put the question to school authorities as well as the wider Blue Mountains community and general public about what Duncan was still doing at the school just a week or two prior to his most recent arrest for sex crimes? Is it not a valid question to ask if there have been gross failures in relation to child protection?
The developments come as former associates of Duncan as well as others closely connected to the school have got in touch with True Crime News Weekly to share their reactions to our exclusive story which alleged a cover-up had taken place.
Many have also discussed the conjecture around Duncan’s age. NSW Police had told True Crime News Weekly on two occasions that Duncan was 46-years-old. However, many of his associates had earlier claimed the teacher was aged in his early-to-mid 30s. According to court reports from earlier this year, Duncan is listed as being 32-years-old. NSW Police confirmed late this week the teacher is indeed 32.
POKER FACE TURNS INTO TRAGEDY, SOURCE REVEALS
One man who regularly saw Duncan at local poker tournaments in Western Sydney described the teacher and sportsman as “manipulative” and “a schemer”.
“He actually came over from New Zealand originally and if you know him like I do you should know he may say anything to get ahead,” the source said.
When contacted, NSW Police said they could not publicly confirm Duncan’s alleged New Zealand nationality.
The same source then revealed shocking details of an alleged plot Duncan was involved in with his now-deceased 26-year-old cousin to defraud poker tournaments just two years ago.
“He lived with his cousin, AJ,” the source explained. “And AJ was just a gentle giant. A big, sweet Maori kid but very naive.”
The source continued: “AJ was a director at some of the poker tournaments and was lucky to make $100 a day doing that. He got roped into a scheme with Gavin where he would sneakily put extra chips on his table during breaks in play. AJ said Gavin promised him he’d make a little extra coin. A couple of people there eventually got suspicious and watched them for a few weeks. Gavin would say, ‘I’m going to the toilet’ and then AJ would put a bunch of chips on his table when they thought no-one was looking. This was about two years ago, in 2017.”
Maths teacher, rugby union footballer, sports coach, and poker aficionado, Gavin Malcolm Duncan, has been arrested on serious sexual abuse charges (Images: Facebook; Twitter / Supplied)
The alleged scam eventually led to AJ losing his job and Duncan being told not to return. But according to our source, it also led to the death of AJ.
“After losing his job, he went into a major depression for a few months. He would not have done any of it, if it wasn’t for Gavin pushing him into it. That’s my honest belief,” the source said.
“One day, Gavin was coming back home from a weekend trip to Queensland and he walked in and he found AJ dead. He had hung himself.
“AJ killed himself because he was being encouraged to cheat. He was easily influenced.”
The man said there were attempts to push for an inquest into AJ’s death but nothing ever came of it. There’s a poker tournament though named in AJ’s honour that now takes place regularly around Penrith and surrounds.
STUDENTS & TEACHERS TELL OF THEIR FEARS AS EDUCATION MINISTER AND SCHOOL AUTHORITIES STAY SILENT
Other grave allegations contained within our original story earlier this week concerned the conduct of several of Duncan’s colleagues within Katoomba High’s PE department. It was alleged that some PE teachers were allowing boundaries with some students to become possibly blurred, thus enabling a culture that made it easier for alleged offenders like Duncan to operate at the school.
The accounts seem to have struck a chord with others too.
“I’m actually a senior in the school and can confirm that something is definitely off about the way the PE staff act with girls,” one source who wished to remain anonymous said after reading our story.
“I personally witnessed a PE staff member at our local bar, the Station Bar, with two students on a Friday night.”
The young student said his concerns had been floating around for a while, and left him feeling increasingly uneasy.
“I’ve even spoken to previous teachers who worked there and they have confirmed that things have always been a bit sleazy,” the source revealed.
“But seeing them at the pub together was definitely the moment I thought ‘hmm, that’s a bit off’.”
“Something is definitely off about the way the PE staff act with girls”: A senior student at Katoomba High School claims to have recently witnessed a PE teacher drinking at popular watering hole, the Station Bar, while accompanied by two female students (Image: Station Bar)
Those claims were also backed up by another source close to the school who said the cover-up surrounding Duncan as well as other allegations involving other teachers at the school was almost like a conspiracy.
One teacher has informed True Crime News Weekly that since our revelations earlier this week, it has been reported that at least one 13-year-old female student believes she was also targeted for grooming behaviour by the now arrested Duncan.
One source alleged Duncan had been transferred from Blaxland High School “for similar predatory behaviour” but then re-employed at Katoomba High School.
True Crime News Weekly contacted Blaxland High School by phone and email this week to ascertain whether Duncan had worked there before moving to Katoomba High School in 2014.
The school did not respond to our requests for confirmation of Duncan’s time at the school, or the reasons for his departure.
Other witnesses from within Katoomba High School have also now come forward to confirm that Duncan’s close and allegedly criminal sexual relationship with the schoolgirl victim was well-known for quite some time, at least amongst other students.
“She would go to his classroom constantly and they would just sit alone in his classroom during recess and lunch and free periods,” one source wrote to True Crime News Weekly.
Another source from within the school has described the alleged victim as vulnerable, and being taken advantage of and allegedly groomed and then abused by Duncan during a tumultuous period in her life.
The NSW Minister for Education at the moment is Sarah Mitchell. She has been in the position for only a few months, since April of this year.
True Crime News Weekly contacted Ms Mitchell’s office to discuss the claims of Duncan being allegedly shuffled around schools despite complaints or concerns about his behaviour with students. We also wanted to know as to why it had taken school authorities at Katoomba High so long to remove Duncan from his teaching duties despite his criminal conviction in May. We then asked the Minister if she was worried that a cover-up may have taken place.
The Minister did not respond to our requests for comment.
And once again, neither Katoomba High School nor the Department of Education would answer our questions about why Duncan had not been removed from the school in May.
Meanwhile, Duncan’s former poker buddy told True Crime News Weekly the teacher would regularly promote his DJ events with promises of free entry and drinks. Duncan has performed regularly in recent years as part of the DJ duo Jagged.
“He had a lot of his female students as friends with him on Facebook where he would also put up and promote his DJ events,” the source said.
“Who knows if any of them took him up on the offers of free entry and drinks and things like that. I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Another person to get in contact told True Crime News Weekly they had gotten to know Duncan through his part-time work as a DJ at bars and clubs.
“I’ll tell you from personal experience, Gav Duncan is a piece of shit,” the source said, seemingly unimpressed with the DJ’s party skills and personal conduct.
“It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As is the fact that the Department of Education and police have not made much noise on this when the guy from Reddam (recently arrested school teacher Ben Fenner) was smashed in the media in recent days.”
Duncan is yet to enter a plea to the charges he is facing and remains on conditional bail until his next appearance at Penrith Local Court on Tuesday, September 3.
– UPDATE –
Following the publication of this article, we received the following comment from a spokesperson on behalf of the NSW Department of Education:
“As this matter is currently before the courts, the school and the department are limited in commenting on it,” the spokesperson said.
“The personal information of staff is not publicised by the department, including employment details; however, it is not unusual for casual teachers to move among a number of schools during what may be regarded as a short period of time.
“The department has worked with the police investigation into this matter, and the teacher has been placed on the Not To Be Employed list for public schools.
“The driving offences referred to were known by the department and are not child-related.”