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Former Victorian principal faces fresh accusation of sex abuse

A former Victorian school principal accused of historical sex offences while working at two Christian schools is facing another allegation of indecent assault.

Peter Harris, who has lived in Thailand in recent years, was arrested at Melbourne Airport in October last year when he attempted to board a flight.

Peter Harris was arrested in October last year at Melbourne Airport.

Peter Harris was arrested in October last year at Melbourne Airport.Credit:Support Phuket

Dr Harris, now 79, was charged with gross indecency with a male, two counts of indecent assault on a male person, and indecent assault. Those charges allegedly occurred between 1975 and 1983 in Maryborough, Castlemaine and East Melbourne.

He was also charged with possessing child abuse material at the time of his arrest.

Dr Harris now faces six charges.

Dr Harris now faces six charges.Credit:Good Shepherd

The Age has confirmed that a new accuser has come forward. Dr Harris now faces an additional count of indecent assault, which allegedly occurred in 1977, between January and June.

He was principal at Maryborough Christian Community College near Bendigo at the time of that alleged offence. Dr Harris was founding principal of the school, now named Highview College, which opened in 1974.

Dr Harris went on to become the founding principal of Billanook College in Mooroolbark in Melbourne’s outer-east in 1980, and left in 1996.

He later moved to Phuket, where he helped to make schools in Thailand sustainable with the support of grants from the Australian government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade gave Dr Harris, of Global Entrepreneurial Education, grants worth $22,500 under the former Australia-Thailand Institute.

Dr Harris also taught at prestigious Melbourne private school Haileybury College in Keysborough from 1967 until 1973, before any of the alleged offences. He was a commerce teacher, librarian, hockey coach and boarding house master at Haileybury.

Dr Harris was released on bail and is next due to appear at the Bendigo Magistrates Court in June.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

Call Lifeline, the 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention service, on 13 11 14.

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