Former Whitgift teacher given 4-year sentence for child abuse

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.

‘Glowing reference’: child abuser Paul Dodd

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”.

Class action: abuse victims may yet seek legal remedy from Whitgift School

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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5 Responses to Former Whitgift teacher given 4-year sentence for child abuse

  1. derekthrower says:

    Provides another dimension to why the Whitgift Foundation is having to restructure it’s finances to face a far less bright future. We look back to such acts of senior Management in the 1980s and clearly see they they thought they could get away with such acts of moral hazard.

    You have to ask what are they doing now that they can think they can get away with.

    • Mark Deacon says:

      A comment made from a position of pure ignorance. The past is a foreign country, and what was acceptable then is not acceptable now, but we should be careful not to judge by today’s standards. What Dodd did was horrendous, but be careful about blaming others, some of whom are dead and have no capacity to respond to your ill-found comments.

      • derekthrower says:

        The article clearly states “the Whitgift headmaster gave him a ‘glowing reference’ to take up a teaching role in New Zealand.”” After two incidents clearly demonstrated he was unfit to teach. How would he have got this job without it?

        The past maybe a foreign country, but trying to use this to hide moral hazard demonstrates you are on another planet.

        • As well as the “glowing reference”, the TV NZ documentary also revealed that David Raeburn, the head of Whitgift at the time, who will have dismissed Dodd, also spoke to the head at Auckland’s Kings College before they employed him.

          David Raburn was head of Whitgift from 1970 to 1991 and was otherwise widely admired for his work at the school. He died in 2021.

      • Chris Flynn says:

        I’m keen to learn more! If child cruelty and assault was acceptable then but not now, when did that change?

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