The State of Victoria is facing a raft of private legal action in the wake of the prolific child sexual offending of former Ballarat teacher Vincent Reynolds, The Courier has learned.
Dozens of survivors have already launched legal action - or are about to do so - suing the state for alleged mistakes that allowed Reynolds access to children.
The Courier understands much of the action centres around the Department of Education's knowledge of Reynolds' proclivities.
Reynolds, who pleaded guilty to 42 offences last month, began his teaching career at a tiny regional school near Ballarat in 1960.
He taught for some time around Ballarat in the 1960s and early 1970s, changing schools frequently. He is thought to have worked for at least six schools in the immediate area including primary schools at Sebastopol, Ballarat, Linton and Wendouree.
He then moved to the north-east in the 1970s, where his offending continued. He is known to have molested students at a number of schools including Wodonga, Yackandandah, Dederang and Myrtleford.
He is thought to have been referred to a psychiatrist in the early 1980s, but allowed to return to his teaching shortly afterwards, where he continued to abuse. Most of his victims were boys under the age of 16.
Reynolds had a teaching career spanning more than three decades. He eventually retired in 1992. Now aged 78, he still lives in the North East region.
Grace Wilson, a partner at Rightside Legal law firm, told The Courier that there were five statements of claim already filed with at least 20 cases pending from her company alone. Earlier this week, The Courier told the story of another survivor suing the state through a separate law firm, Arnold Thomas & Becker.
Ms Wilson said at least two of the survivors who had come forward were suffering from "shockingly poor mental health" and that she hoped to fast-track their claims.
Many were abused by Reynolds despite signals that he was a danger to children, she said. "Even after there were repeated warnings, he kept on going back to the classroom".
She said the wave of litigation against the State was comparable to the number of cases prompted by abuse carried out by Robert Leonard Morris, another teacher who molested children at schools around Victoria.
The one case that went to trial led to an award of $725,000 going against the State in favour of one of Morris' victims. Others were settled out of court for more. By comparison, the National Redress Scheme caps compensation at $150,000.
Ms Wilson said her law firm will claim "aggravated or exemplary" damages, which apply when negligence is deemed so serious that a special penalty should be imposed as a deterrent.
Ms Wilson also suggested that previous victims who had settled out of court agreements after Reynolds was charged in the 1990s might be eligible for further compensation.
This week, AAP reported that Victorian victims of institutional child sex abuse could overturn unfair compensation payments under a new government reform, a move warmly welcomed by Ballarat survivor Phil Nagle.
Courts would be able to set aside a past deed of release or judgement, the Andrews Labor government announced on Friday.
Reynolds is due to be sentenced on June 27.
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