Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sex abuse case against Catholic school

Sacked City lawyer launches £5million sex abuse case against Catholic school blasted by TV soccer pundit
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 1:28 PM on 19th March 2009
A former high flying City lawyer has launched a £5 million sex abuse claim against his Catholic school.
The victim, who was a partner at one of London's biggest firms, said his promising career was ruined because of "inappropriate behaviour" triggered by years of abuse as a child.
The case is due to begin at the High Court on Monday and will be by far the biggest claim of its kind seen in Britain. The largest damages payout for sex abuse so far is £600,000.
'Ordeal': Football pundit Mark Lawrenson has spoken of 'horrific beatings' at the Jesuit school, right, named by the City lawyer
The 50-year-old solicitor, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, attended the Jesuit-run Preston Catholic College between 1969 and 1976.
He was a contemporary-of TV football pundit Mark Lawrenson, who has described the horrific beatings he suffered by priests while he was a schoolboy.
The victim, who is identified only as MXM, claims that one priest subjected him to 'repeated sexual abuse and assaults' while at the Lancashire school.
He says his career was blighted by the 'psychiatric difficulties' that dogged his adult life and led to a breakdown.
MXM became a litigation partner in 1994 at the law firm. However, he was dismissed three years later after he gained a reputation for reckless alcoholfuelled behaviour and has been unable to rebuild his career at the same level.
According to legal documents seen by the London Evening Standard, the Hammersmith-based divorcee has suffered 'depression, nightmares, anger, mood changes, feelings of estrangement ...difficulty forming and sustaining relationships, alcohol abuse, reckless behaviour, sleep disturbance and unhappiness".
He has had years of therapy since the breakdown in 2005.
His barrister Robert Seabrook QC, is expected to argue that his client has missed out on 12 years of partnership earnings estimated at around £400,000 a year, as well as other benefits such as pensions.
The Jesuit priest is named as Father Michael Spencer, who died in 2000, but the lawyer argues the abuse was witnessed by at least one other priest and was widely known about at the school.
The case, against the school governors and the Society of Jesus Trust, could open a floodgate to other large claims by high-earning professionals who have not come forward because they did not think it would be worth the effort and cost.
Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said: "Traditionally British courts don't like big damages settlements because they feel that would bring in the American system, 'which would be awful'."
A spokesman for the British " province" of Jesuits said: "The Society takes any allegation of this nature extremely seriously, and since this claim was formally made first in June 2006, [has] sought, at all stages, to assist positively with enquiries."
He added: "In accordance with the province's child protection guidelines, the province's safeguarding coordinator, whose primary role is to offer support and help to any victim to mitigate the effects of abuse of any kind, has been fully involved."
Thousands of successful cases have been bought against the Jesuits in America but this is thought to be the first time a claim has reached a British court.

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