140 sex abuse victims sue Catholic Church

THE Christian Brothers are being sued by 140 men who claim they were sexually abused by staff at one of the De La Salle order’s former care homes.
The group action is one of the biggest of its kind ever brought and could – if successful – cost the Catholic Church more than £1 million.
It involves abuse carried out between the 1968 and 1992 at the UK home when the men were all aged between 13 and 16.
More than 18 months has been spent planning the action, which follows the successful prosecution of the care home’s “evil” former principle, Brother James Carragher in 2004.
Once hailed as an internationally respected child welfare champion, the 68-year-old was jailed for 14 years after he was convicted of five counts of buggery and 11 counts of indecent assault against boys at St William’s Roman Catholic Community Home in Middlesborough between 1968 and 1992.
When he was convicted, Detective Superintendent Richard Kerman – the officer in charge of the police investigation into abuse allegations at St William’s – described Carragher as the “most evil man he had ever met”.
The ten-week trail heard evidence from 43 witnesses and Carragher’s conviction came seven years after he finished five years of seven-year sentence for more sexual offences – one count of buggery, one of attempted buggery and 12 counts of indecent assualt – involving nine boys at the school.
Solicitor David Greenwood, of Jordan’s Solicitors, said last night: “The victims’ lives have been irreparably damaged because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of certain staff at St William’s.
“It’s difficult to put a price on any one act of abuse but a single rape generally gets around £60,000 in compensation, so the figures will vary according to the nature of the abuse.
“I am confident that the amount could total more than £1 million.”
Fr Derek Turnham, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Middlesborough, said: “This is a very complex case and our insurance company has instructed us to take this matter to court.
“Although we owned the building in which the school was housed, we did not run it and in any case, it was approved by the local education authority.
“It should be worth bearing in mind that only one man has ever been found guilty of abusing pupils there and he is currently in jail.
“The church deeply regrets that these things happened and the school was closed in 1992.”
Greenwood, from West Yorkshire, said the first of a series of writs have already been delivered to the Catholic Church offices in Middlesborough and that he expects the case to finally get to court by December 2007.
ENDS

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