A school’s failure to follow procedures resulted in a childhood abuse survivor and “brilliant” young scientist choosing a different career, a court has been told.
Katrina Munting is suing her abuser, former teacher Marcus James Pollard, as well as his employer, the state of Tasmania, for damages over the abuse which occurred in the late 1990s.
The civil judge-only trial heard closing submissions from lawyers in the Supreme Court of Tasmania in Hobart on Wednesday.
Barrister Chris Dockray told the court Mrs Munting, who was aged 15 at the time of the abuse at Rose Bay High School, was ambitious and would have reached the highest levels of her ability.
It was “almost certain” she would have become a professor by 2022, he said.
The court was previously told Pollard resigned after the school learned of abuse allegations in February 2000 and went on to teach at the University of Tasmania.
He was sentenced to three years jail in 2020 after pleading guilty to the persistent sexual abuse of a young person, Mrs Munting.
Mrs Munting has previously told the trial she was offered a PhD at the University of Tasmania but declined because Pollard was teaching there.
She said she decided to become a teacher so she could protect children.
“(This) brilliant young female scientist decided not to pursue her career. (She) declined because of the abuse and presence of Pollard in the university.” Mr Dockray said.
He said employees at the school had made comments to her along the lines that it had been noticed that her relationship with Pollard was “not normal”.
“That itself warranted further investigation,” he said.
“If procedures had been followed, (it would) likely end up in the hands of police and he would have been charged.
“(Pollard) wouldn’t have been employed by the university”.
Mrs Munting, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, is seeking damages for lost earning potential, as well as for medical expenses and on other grounds.
Lawyer representing the state, Kate Cuthbertson SC, said Mrs Munting had the capacity to pursue other career options including the one she chose.
“That was a decision made very early while she was at college,” Ms Cuthbertson said.
The state has not disputed the abuse took place and has accepted vicarious liability, but is challenging the extent to which it influenced Mrs Munting’s career and prospects.
Justice David Porter will deliver his decision at a date to be fixed.