The 16 episode investigative podcast series The Teacher’s Pet was a global phenomenon that reignited interest in one of Australia’s most famous cold cases. Downloaded more than 17 million times worldwide since its release in May 2018, the series along with the journalist behind the program Hedley Thomas, thrust the dark and tragic story of Lyn Dawson back into the public eye.
The Teacher’s Pet explores the marriage of Chris and Lyn Dawson, the unusually close relationship between Chris and his twin brother Paul, and Dawson’s relationship with his student, Joanne Curtis.
Doting mother-of-two Lyn Dawson went missing from her northern beaches home in January 1982, then 33-years-old. Her husband Chris Dawson, a P.E teacher at Cromer High School, told loved ones that his wife had run off to join a religious group. There has been no sign of Lyn Dawson since.
Lyn Dawson was 33-years-old when she went missing from her home in Bayview, an affluent suburb on Sydney’s northern beaches. Lyn and Chris were high school sweethearts and married in 1970.
In late 1981 Lyn Dawson learned that her husband was in a sexual relationship with his 16-year-old student Joanne Curtis, who was living with Lyn and Chris in the family home at the time. As discussed on The Teacher’s Pet, Chris moved Joanne into the marital home only a couple of days after Lyn disappeared.
Chris alleges that his wife has called him on multiple occasions following her disappearance, however, no one but Mr. Dawson has ever received a phone call. Her body has never been found.
Chris Dawson played first-grade rugby league for the Newtown Jets in the 1970s before becoming a P.E teacher. Dawson taught at Cromer High School, and it was there that the teacher groomed 16-year-old student Joanne Curtis in 1981, eventually engaging in a sexual relationship with the teenager while he was still married to Lyn.
Chris has always denied any involvement in his wife’s disappearance and insists that Lyn left him and their two daughters to join a religious group.
Paul Dawson is the twin brother of Chris Dawson and the brothers strangely close relationship is explored in The Teacher’s Pet. The podcast has explored allegations that Paul, along with his twin brother Chris, shared sexual encounters with their students.
Paul Dawson has been vocal about his brother’s innocence.
Joanne Curtis was a student at Cromer High and was just 16-years-old when Chris Dawson began grooming her. The grooming of Joanne and the subsequent sexual relationship between Curtis and Dawson is at the center of The Teacher’s Pet.
Chris moved Joanne into the family home only a few days after Lyn disappeared in 1982, and the pair were married in January 1984. Joanne and Chris moved to Queensland shortly after Lyn went missing and they share a daughter together.
The pair divorced in the late 1980s.
In an interview with Mamamia podcast host Hedley Thomas says that there is “no doubt that Joanne in her tender years was a victim of manipulation and grooming.”