Saturday, August 28, 2010

Victory judgement for abused former pupil

Victory judgement for abused former pupil
Patrick Raggett, who his suing the Society of Jesus for sexual abuse Picture by GLENN COPUS
By Stef Hall
Published on Sat Aug 28 09:30:00 BST 2010

A former lawyer subjected to years of abuse at a Preston Jesuit run school has spoken of his long journey ahead after the Court of Appeal threw out a bid by the Catholic Order to overturn a ruling it was liable for the treatment he endured.

Patrick Raggett, 52, and formerly of Duchy Avenue, Fulwood, said the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of the late Father Michael Spencer at the former Preston Catholic College between 1969 and 1976 severely affected his personal relationships and his career as a City lawyer in later life and intends to sue the former governors.

Mr Raggett, whose mother was a secretary at St Gregory’s Catholic Primary school in Deepdale and dad was in the RAF, said he had a ‘golden’ childhood and had done well at school until, in 1969, he went to the college, which “the Jesuits ruled with a rod of iron”.

From the age of 11 the little boy suffered years of abuse by Father Michael Spencer, who taught French and RE at the school from 1962 until 1980.

While he was naked, the priest measured him “to chart his growth”, filmed him doing exercises, photographed him and touched inappropriately. He was forced to shower with him.

Spencer’s position as captain of the football team brought the two into constant contact.

It continued between 1969 and 1976. Mr Raggett, who left Preston in 1976 to attend university, suffered years of under-achievement at work, a failed marriage and binge drinking.

He lost his job at a law firm in 1997 due to drinking and aggression but did not link it to his experiences until he had a breakdown in April 2005.

Today he said: “The 11-year-old boy was a well balanced happy litle boy and for 37 years he was kicked off his orbital path, the natural path his life should have taken.

“The fact 11 other men have come forward with claims against the College inspired me to lift my anonymity and it makes me feel vindicated.”

An earlier hearing in the case ruled Mr Raggett would be able to pursue a claim for damages against the College, despite only bringing the case decades after the abuse took place. Lawyers for the Catholic Order challenged the case but the decision but was upheld by Lords Justices Mummery, Thomas and Toulson at the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Relieved Patrick, who lives wih his partner in Chiswick, London, said: “I am pleased with the outcome but this is only another step along the journey ahead. I remain resolute, that justice will be done in the end.”

The next step is expected to be another trial in spring 2011.

Amanda Stevens from law firm Irwin Mitchell’s specialist injury team, said: “The decision handed down here today has provided much clarity and comfort for many victims of abuse, especially Mr Raggett who is looking forward to putting this ordeal behind him and moving on with his life.”

“We will continue working to investigate the devastating impact that this abuse has had on Mr Raggett with a view to determining the overall loss he has endured throughout his life.”

A British Jesuits spokesman said: “The British Jesuits have fully noted the judgment of the Court of Appeal and are discussing its implications with their legal advisers. They recognise the claimant’s right to proceed with his claim for damages. And they deeply regret any abuse he suffered during his time at Preston Catholic College.”

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