A FORMER school principal has told a special inquiry he was aware students were being sexually abused by a hostel warden but he did not believe it was his responsibility to tell police.
Claude John Riordan, who was principal at Northam Senior High School during 1975-76, said his sons, who were students at the school, told him they had heard stories about Roy Wenlock inviting boys to his flat and making them wrestle him in underpants.
Mr Riordan said he told Bishop Michael Challen, who was chairman of the St Christopher's Hostel board, that there may be some "concerning" behaviour by Mr Wenlock.
"Bishop Challen told me 'we are aware of the situation and we have it in hand'," Mr Riordan, who is now 84, said in a statement to the inquiry.
"I did not think it was for me to look into these concerns but if it had been I would have gone to the police. I am not certain if the police would have done anything as I did not have any evidence other than what my sons told me."
Mr Riordan left the school soon after, sick with cancer.
The inquiry is examining allegations of sexual abuse and whether there was any cover-up at four state-run hostels.
It has heard extensive evidence from countless alleged victims and witnesses in relation to Dennis John
McKenna, who sexually abused boys at St Andrew's Hostel in Katanning between 1975 and 1991.
McKenna is serving his second jail term in relation to offences against 11 boys and is facing 66 new charges relating to 16 more former students.
His brother Neil McKenna also has been jailed for abusing two female students. A third man was charged last month.
Students feared 'wrestling sessions'
The inquiry this week is focusing on St Christopher's Hostel while Mr Wenlock was warden between 1963 and 1977.
It has heard he forced boarders to "wrestle" him wearing their underwear or a pair of leopard-print jocks he provided. He would make them straddle him while he was on his back and thrust his groin against their buttocks.
At least one former student claims Mr Wenlock orgasmed during the wrestling sessions.
He particularly targeted students on their 14th birthdays, the inquiry was told. Legislation at the time only provided for child abuse against boys aged up to 14.
The wrestling sessions - referred to by the students as "bruting" - were common knowledge among students.
Several alleged victims claim they told their parents or other authority figures, including a former politician and teacher, while others feared reporting the abuse to adults because of Mr Wenlock's high reputation in the community.
'He got on top of me'
Michael Kalajzic, whose complaint against Mr Wenlock led to his resignation in December 2007, told the inquiry he was "white as a ghost" the night he "wrestled" the warden.
In a statement he said he went to Mr Wenlock's unit to report he had returned from a trip to Perth. The warden was wearing a robe and asked him to have an arm wrestle.
"Then he said he wanted a wrestle and he got on top of me," Mr Kalajzic said.
"It started like a friendly grandfather-type wrestle then he tried to pin me down. I remember the look of determination on his face.
"At some stage he asked me to take my shirt off but I told him 'no'."
Mr Kalajzic said he does not recall any sexual offending but ten minutes into the wrestle he "raced" out of the unit and back to the dormitory where he told some boys about the incident.
"I was freaked out during the night as I thought [Mr Wenlock] would come into the dormitory," he said.
A young science teacher with a good rapport with the students, Tim Blee, told Mr Kalajzic he was "white as a ghost" and the student revealed what had happened.
Mr Blee told the inquiry he relayed the complaint to a married couple who also lived and assisted at the hostel.
Within a week a meeting was held that included Mr Kalajzic and his mother, Mr Blee, the couple, Bishop Challen and Mr Wenlock.
Mr Wenlock resigned shortly after. He was never charged and died in 2007, aged 75.
Another alleged victim told the inquiry today he "tried to kill" Mr Wenlock during a wrestling "session".
"[I was] pretty upset, very upset," the man, known as "L", said.
He also told Mr Blee.
The inquiry also heard from Brett McIver who was a student at the school and lived in the town with his family, including his late father Ken, who was a politician at the time and attempted to have authorities investigate allegations against Mr Wenlock.
The inquiry continues.