Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Church appeals over £8m payout decision

Church appeals over £8m payout decision
8:36am Tuesday 2nd February 2010

Print Email Share Comments(0) By Graeme Hetherington »

THE Catholic Church has launched an appeal against a court decision that left it facing an £8m compensation bill.

The appeal was made after a judge ruled that Middlesbrough Diocese was liable for running a former children’s home at the centre of an abuse scandal spanning 30 years.

There are 142 alleged victims of sexual and physical abuse from St William’s Community Home, in Market Weighton, near York, who could now seek damages from the Middlesbrough Diocese.

One victim, Graham Baverstock, has called for other victims to come forward after suffering at the hands the priests.

The case resulted in the biggest historical abuse claim against the Catholic Church in England.

Last November, Judge Simon Hawkesworth ruled at Leeds Crown Court that responsibility for the children’s home lies with the diocese, not a Catholic order of lay teachers, the De La Salle Brothers. The case centres around the alleged systematic abuse of boys between ten and 16 from 1960 to 1992.

The home had taken in boys referred from local authorities, mainly from Yorkshire and the North-East.

About 2,000 children and 500 staff attended the home during the 30-year period.

About 70 per cent of the claims involve sexual abuse, some alleging rape.

Although the De La Salle Brothers were in senior positions, Judge Hawkesworth found that they were not employed by the lay order and it was the diocese that had the power to appoint staff.

Mr Baverstock, from Catterick, North Yorkshire, was 14 when he spent more than a year in the home, where he maintains he was systematically abused.

The 51-year-old, who now lives in Bridlington, said he has attempted suicide, self-harmed and has never been able to form intimate relationships as a result of what happened to him in 1973 and 1974.

Last night, Father Derek Turnham, a spokesman for the Middlesbrough Diocese, said: “There has been no resolution as yet and the process is ongoing.

“I can confirm that the Church has lodged an appeal against the ruling and that is all that I can say at this time.”

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