A former Ballarat teacher has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for sexually abusing 38 schoolchildren over the course of more than three decades.
Vincent Reynolds, who was born in Ballarat in 1941 and trained at Ballarat Teachers College, was sentenced for a total of 42 offences at Melbourne County Court yesterday.
In sentencing remarks, Judge Gabrielle Cannon said Reynolds might well die in jail. She also sharply criticised education authorities for allowing Vincent Reynolds back into the classroom.
It is absolutely bloody stupid sending you back to the classroom because you'll just keep on doing itPsychiatrist
According to Judge Cannon's sentencing remarks, Reynolds was referred to a psychiatrist in 1980 after parents complained about him.
After taking six or seven months off, he was allowed to return to his teaching duties. When the psychiatrist heard of the decision, he said: "It is absolutely bloody stupid sending you back to the classroom because you'll just keep on doing it."
Reynolds taught at a number of schools in the Ballarat region when he began teaching in the early 1960s, including schools in Sebastopol, Linton, Ballarat Central and Wendouree.
Most of the victims in this case were students at schools in the north-east of Victoria, where Reynolds moved in the mid 1970s.
However, one of his students from his early teaching in the Ballarat region was among the 38 victims recognised in this most recent case.
Another survivor, Brian Jackson, said outside court: "He's ruined our lives right back from 1960. The education department has a lot to answer for."
Grace Wilson of Rightside Legal is representing around 30 of the Reynolds' victims in a further civil compensation claim.
There is no sentence that would feel like enough to the victims, but they felt listened to, so that's importantGrace Wilson, lawyer
"The complainants are proud of having been involved in putting him away on behalf of other victims as well as themselves," she told The Courier.
"I think there was a sense of gratitude that the judge had carefully listened to the victims too."
READ THE FULL SENTENCING REMARKS BELOW:
"There is no sentence that would feel like enough to the victims, but they felt listened to, so that's important."
Ms Wilson believes there may be a number of victims in the Ballarat area who have not previously come forward.
Reynolds, whose wife and three children have stood by him, will spend at least nine years in jail before he is eligible for parole.
- WITH AAP
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