Former Knox teacher denies he was ‘balaclava man’



Former Knox Grammar teacher Christopher Fotis has denied any knowledge of an incident in which a boy was sexually assaulted by a balaclava-wearing intruder who hid under his bed, despite sleeping metres away.

Evidence has been given to the sex abuse royal commission that bedlam erupted after the boy screamed in the early hours “Some faggot’s got my balls”.

The Year 8 boys chased the intruder, who was wearing a balaclava and an old Knox tracksuit, from the boarding house dormitory and news of the assault spread like wildfire across the prestigious Sydney school.

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But, even though he was a suspect, Fotis told the royal commission he never knew of the 1988 incident until it was mentioned at the hearings this year.

Fotis, 52, said he had no recollection of the then-house master Tim Hawkes banging on his door, but that did not surprise him because he had slept though earthquakes in Greece.

He denied being the person who assaulted the boy, known as ARN, or ever being questioned about the incident.

knox school inquiry

Christopher Fotis has denied any knowledge of the ‘balaclava man’ incident, when a sleep student was sexually assaulted. Photo: AAP

Counsel assisting the commission, David Lloyd, was not convinced.

“Is this seriously your evidence?” Mr Lloyd asked.

Fotis replied: “I did not know I was suspected of this incident.”

He agreed he was sleeping on the same floor when the boy was assaulted but said he never heard him scream.

Fotis was one of four resident masters at MacNeil House at the time.

At a resumed hearing on Tuesday, the former teacher, arrested in Queensland after he failed to appear before the commission in February, said he was asked to resign in 1989 by then-headmaster Ian Paterson over a legal matter which was nothing to do with the school directly.

When pressed by Mr Lloyd he said: “The legal matter was some charges pending in the local court, unlawful exposure.”

He had been spotted masturbating in his car.

He denied the incident, of which he was later convicted, happened outside a school in Ryde.

The commission has heard that Dr Paterson gave Fotis a glowing reference describing him as an enthusiast for his job and “meticulous in his preparation and definite in the standards he requires from his students”.

On Tuesday, Fotis described the reference as “underwhelming” because Dr Paterson was known to be more generous in his praises.

Fotis said he did not use the reference when he sought and got work as a casual teacher in the NSW public system.

He was never asked to provide proof of his experience when he worked as a casual teacher, he said.

Margaret Bateman, representing Fotis, told the commission her client did not appear at the initial hearing because he was not served with a summons to do so.

Ms Bateman objected to questions about whether Fotis had a criminal record.

He had been hired at Knox in 1987 by Dr Paterson without any references, after he spend a month there as a trainee teacher when he was still studying.


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