Christian school was warned four years earlier about predator teacher Steven Mellody

Serious questions have now arisen about the adequacy of the college’s response to repeated staff complaints about Mellody since 2016, when a teacher was so concerned that she kept a log of his interactions with female students.

St Andrews Christian College, Wantirna South, Rector Catriona Wansbrough.

St Andrews Christian College, Wantirna South, Rector Catriona Wansbrough.

The same teacher also took photographs of Mellody touching or close to the students, but was instructed to delete the images, according to legal documents obtained by Aging.

The teacher first warned the school principal, Catriona Wansbrough, on April 18, 2016 about Mellody’s regular meetings with female students, which sometimes took place outside of school hours.

Wansbrough was again warned by the teacher on June 4, 2016, according to documents obtained by Aging.

In an email on October 11, 2016, Merrick Brewer, Head of Learning and Teaching at St Andrews Christian College, told Mrs Wansbrough that one teacher had seen Mellody touch a student’s hair while another teacher saw him return from dunes with a young female student at a school camp.

That same day, Mrs Wansbrough instructed Mr Brewer that she had spoken to Mellody about staffing issues.

She said his explanation of why he was alone with the student “sounded possible,” but said she had instructed Mellody that “if he was found alone with a student or touching a student for no very reasonable reason, his position here must be terminated, ā€¯according to her email reply the same day.

The following day, Mellody was spoken to by then-Middle School principal Daniel Lee, who said he needed to be seen more in the staff room during recess and at lunchtime or playing sports with male students.

St Andrews Christian College in Wantirna South.

St Andrews Christian College in Wantirna South. Credit:Eddie Jim.

“From my conversation with Steve, he seems very ready to change perceptions and take the right steps to get there,” Lee said in an email to Mrs Wansbrough on 12 October 2016.

Complaints about Mellody’s behavior continued, however, and his predatory behavior appeared to be an open secret among many students, who referred to him as “Mr Pedo” on social media. A male student left private school after being caught calling Mellody a “c —” on social media.

On February 2, 2019, a teacher contacted Mr. Lee again and expressed concern that Mellody should attend a school camp as a leader.

“You are aware that I have previously expressed concern about him in another context … if something went wrong as a result of his involvement with students in his custody, this could have serious consequences for the school,” the teacher said in an e -mail on February 2, 2019.

In another email on August 20, 2019, a teacher contacted Yvonne Hughes, the head of the junior high school at the college, and wanted to discuss the school’s lack of response to her concerns about Mellody.

“May I please talk to you about this at some point? Steve should not allow students to get so involved with him and he has been warned before, but it still continues,” the teacher said in an email.

“Steve should not allow students to get so involved with him, and he has been warned before, but it still continues.”

An email from a teacher sent in 2019

The teacher told Mrs. Hughes that she was having a “sleepless night” when she thought of a female student she named in the email.

The same girl was a victim of Mellody and was part of the criminal case against him.

St Andrews Christian College did not answer questions from Aging, but issued a statement in response to the allegations.

“Mr. Mellody, a former registered teacher, was immediately dismissed when the college became aware of the criminal charges against him, and dismissed shortly thereafter,” the statement said.

The college said in a statement that it had complied with mandatory reporting obligations and reported the charges against Mellody to the Children and Young People’s Commission.

“The college will continue with an internal investigation once the police have received approval but had already updated its child safety policies and practices,” the statement said.

Mellody was arrested on October 20 last year when police raided his home in North Ringwood and seized a computer hard drive, a laptop and his C300 Mercedes Benz.

Within two weeks of his arrest, another student from the same school came forward and told police that Mellody had sexually assaulted her.

Police claimed he persuaded the first complainant to sneak out of her home at night and regularly took her to the campus where he had sex with her. On at least one occasion, the alleged victim was instructed by Mellody to wear his school uniform, according to court documents.

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In a letter sent by St Andrews Christian College to parents on November 6, the school said it was “deeply shocked and shaken” by the allegations, confirming that it had fired Mellody.

The 37-year-old received bail on strict terms last November, which required him to live in his parents’ home in Blackburn and banned him from any contact with his infant daughter.

However, he was accused of trying to pervert the trial and commit a charge while on bail in August, after allegedly trying to force the victim in the case “to either withdraw or change her statement in favor of the outcome of the trial”, according to legal documents.

Mellody has previously been remanded in custody since August pleads guilty to more than 50 sexual offenses on October 22, when the prosecution indicated that 11 charges would be withdrawn, including four cases of rape.

Mellody, a former youth pastor in the Salvation Army, is facing a plea in the district court on March 3 next year.

If you or someone you know needs support, please contact National Sexual Counseling on Assault, Domestic Violence and Families at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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