Sunday, October 24, 2010

New abuse claims

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New child abuse investigation at home where the Catholic Church is trying to avoid payment of compensation to victims
Police are investigating dozens of fresh claims of child abuse at St William’s Community Home, in Market Weighton in Yorkshire. Two members of the De La Salle Order of Christian Brothers, which ran the home, have already been jailed for abusing a number of boys at the home. Five other members of the Catholic teaching brotherhood were also previously charged, but not convicted.

Now, the 21 complainants, originally from Hull and the East Riding, have made fresh allegations against “several” members of the brotherhood which ran the home.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver has overall command of the new investigation, which has been running for a week and involves ten detectives from the force’s major incident team. It is expected to take at least a year.

Mr Leaver said: "We have launched a fresh inquiry into serious sexual and physical abuse at the former care home for boys in Market Weighton. There have been numerous allegations made by 21 complainants against several former members of staff. They are all fresh allegations. Seventeen of the complainants were passed onto us by a solicitor conducting a civil claim against the Catholic Church and four came to us directly. They are very grim accusations which cover the 1960s, 70s and 80s. We will look into the matters in a robust fashion." This latest investigation, code-named Operation Reno, follows two similar inquiries centred around the now abandoned care home.

The former principal, Brother James Carragher, abused vulnerable boys — some as young as 12 — in the swimming pool, in the showers, in his personal chambers, and even in the care home's chapel. Some of his victims had been plied with alcohol. Others were made to take drugs.

Details of the sickening abuse by Carragher and his colleague, Father Anthony McCallen, first emerged in the 1990s. Carragher was jailed for seven years for a catalogue of abuse and McCallen was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years, reduced to two on appeal, for indecent assault and taking indecent pictures of young boys in 1993. In 2001, nine separate accusations of abuse by teachers were made by former residents at the home.

Jordans, the Wakefield-based solicitors, passed on the details of 17 of the complainants to the police. Jordans are awaiting the outcome of an appeal as to whether the De La Salle Order should be jointly responsible with the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough for compensation. The Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough is appealing against an earlier High Court ruling that it alone was responsible for the compensation.

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