Katrina Munting awarded damages after launching legal fight against state of Tasmania and former teacher Marcus James Pollard

A child abuse survivor in Tasmania has been awarded $2 million by a court after a legal battle over the extent of state responsibility.

Katrina Munting was abused by her science teacher Marcus James Pollard when she was a high school student in Hobart in the late 1990s.

Pollard pleaded guilty in 2020 to persistent sexual abuse of a young person and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Ms Munting launched civil proceedings against Pollard and the State of Tasmania for damages, saying she had failed to reach her full potential.

In a judgment on Monday, the Supreme Court of Tasmania awarded Ms Munting a total of $2,016,135 following a trial that concluded in March 2023.

The state had accepted vicarious liability for Pollard’s abuse, but Ms Munting argued the responsibility was greater.

Katrina Munting awarded $2,016,135 in damages after suing the state and her former teacher

“While it is a very gratifying outcome, no amount of money will ever remove the damage caused by my abuser and the enablers,” Ms Munting said outside court on Monday.

‘Finally I am being held accountable by the state for their shortcomings. Because he was one of their employees and because they were bystanders.

“They knew and did nothing.”

Judge David Porter found the abuse had been specifically brought to the attention of the school’s then principal and higher education staff in February 2000.

Marcus James Pollard (pictured) was sentenced to three years in prison

Marcus James Pollard (pictured) was sentenced to three years in prison

Shortly afterwards, Pollard was ‘effectively suspended’ and resigned in April 2000.

Tasmania Police were not notified and no complaint was brought to their attention until Ms Munting commenced criminal proceedings in November 2018.

Pollard also breached his duty of care by engaging in retaliatory and vindictive behavior following the sexual misconduct, Judge Porter ruled.

The judge described Mrs Munting as an excellent student who was involved in many aspects of school life.

She has experienced significant psychological distress for many years, has been diagnosed with PTSD, has episodes of dissociation and takes antidepressants and other medications, the court heard.

Ms Munting told the civil trial she had been offered a PhD at the University of Tasmania but turned it down because Pollard was teaching there at the time.

She said she decided to become a teacher so she could protect children.

“I’m standing here for my case, but I’m also standing here for a lot of other victim-survivors who for many reasons cannot appear in court,” she said.

Katrina Munting (right) was joined in court on Monday by her husband Danny (left)

Katrina Munting (right) was accompanied in court on Monday by her husband Danny (left)

‘They will also only get a little bit of healing from that.

‘I hope that the state will take this matter to heart and think about it very carefully in the approach they have taken and what they have done to me.

“I hope it will mean change for them.”

Pollard and the state were ordered to pay $1,976,135 – the state was also ordered to pay aggravated damages of $15,000 and Pollard $25,000 for exemplary damages.

Approximately $1.38 million of this amount covers Ms. Munting’s loss of past and future earning capacity.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redressal Support Service 1800 211 028