A former teacher at Whitgift School was yesterday given a four-year prison sentence for abusing boys at the private school in the 1980s. The school could now face a class action legal case brought on behalf of three victims because of the abuse Dodd inflicted on them.
At a trial at Gloucester Crown Court in July, Paul Dodd, now 64, pleaded guilty to one offence of child cruelty and two of indecent assault during the time he was a history teacher and rugby coach at the school in South Croydon.
The boys abused were aged between 10 and 12.
Dodd moved to New Zealand in around 1988. His abuse at Whitgift came to light through a TV New Zealand documentary that was broadcast in 1995.
Two months ago, the Gloucester judge gave Dodd a suspended prison sentence of two years in addition to a rehabilitation programme, unpaid work and being placed on a sexual harm prevention order for seven years. The judge took into account that Dodd is sole carer for his wife, who has a chronic medical condition, and it was “for that reason alone” that his sentence was suspended.
But yesterday the Court of Appeal deemed that the sentence was too lenient, following an appeal through the Attorney General’s Office.
Lawyers acting for the victims of Dodds’ abuse had submitted that, “Survivors of abuse often face a life sentence in respect of the impact of their abuse, and it is only right that those that inflict these heinous acts should be punished appropriately, and this must include a prison term.”
Whitgift School is part of the Whitgift Foundation, together with Trinity School and Old Palace girls’ school, which in unrelated developments it was revealed yesterday is facing closure in 2025.
Whitgift School is known for having peacocks strutting in its expansive grounds, very good sports teams and outstanding academic results. It all comes at a price, though. Fees for day boys at Whitgift are currently more than £22,000 per year. Full boarders are charged £43,629 per year.
Dino Nocivelli, for solicitors Leigh Day, acting on behalf of the victims, has confirmed that he will “continue with the civil cases against the school for the abuse inflicted by Dodd”.
Nocivelli has revealed, “It has come to our knowledge through a New Zealand documentary that Dodd was placed on a list prohibiting him from teaching after leaving Whitgift School, while apparently the Whitgift headmaster gave him a ‘glowing reference’ to take up a teaching role in New Zealand.”
Dodd joined the staff of Kings College, a prestigious boarding school in Auckland, in 1988. While there, Dodd admitted that he had been dismissed from Whitgift for hitting a child – for the second time – after having lost his temper.
The programme included an interview with a young man who alleged that he had been sexually propositioned by Dodd when he was a 16-year-old at the school, and it also found that because of his assault on the 10-year-old at Whitgift, Dodd was placed on “List 99” by the Department for Education in the UK, making him unsuitable for teaching children.
Yesterday, Appeal Court judges Lord Justice William Davis, Mr Justice Jacobs and Mr Justice Griffiths concluded Dodds’ sentencing judge in July should have imposed a total sentence of four years.
Victims had described their anxiety, nightmares and depression after the offending in personal statements, the AGO said.
Despite the restrictions placed on Dodd after his sentencing in July, he is at liberty, and following the Court of Appeal sentence, he was given until 4pm today to surrender himself to a police station.
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