Specialist abuse lawyer Elizabeth Duncan recovers substantial compensation for a Jesus Army abuse survivor
The Jesus Army, an evangelical religious organisation, is facing a number of allegations of historic sexual abuse. The Jesus Army, which is also known as the Jesus Fellowship, was created in 1969. Members of the Jesus Army have been convicted of various offences involving sexual abuse.
As specialist sex abuse lawyers we are experienced in handling compensation claims against the Jesus Army on behalf of survivors. Lawyer Elizabeth Duncan has recently concluded a Jesus Army abuse claim, recovering substantial compensation for a former member of the organisation.
The man had suffered sexual abuse when he was a child living in a communal home owned by the Jesus Army. Our client lived with his family in the communal home. Among the other residents was a man named Clifford Brett who was also a member of the Jesus Army congregation.
From the age of about 6 our client was sexually assaulted by Brett. Brett took him from his bed at night and into his own bedroom where he carried out the abuse. The abuse started with sexual touching and oral sex and escalated until our client was regularly raped by Brett from the age of 8. Brett kept our client silent by threatening to hurt his family, including his younger brothers, if our client told anyone what was happening to him.
The abuse continued until our client was 12 years old when his family left the Jesus Army communal home.
Our client was unable to tell anyone what had happened to him. His mother was suffering from depression at the time and he did not want to cause her more difficulty. However once our client was in his early 20s he felt able to tell his mother what he had suffered. She then helped him to go to the police and make a formal report.
After a criminal investigation Brett was finally convicted of various offences against a number of children, including our client, in May 2016. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
We agreed to deal with our client’s Jesus Army abuse claim on a No Win – No Fee basis.
We obtained a copy of the police report as well as the Certificate of Conviction from the Crown Court. We then sent a formal Letter of Claim to the Jesus Army alleging that they were responsible for the abuse suffered by our client on the basis that Brett had a role within the organisation that was akin to employment and that they had been negligent in allowing such a person live with access to small children when they should have been aware that he posed a risk to them.
Liability for the abuse was admitted. However, the Jesus Army attempted to avoid paying compensation by arguing that the claim was being brought too late as, strictly speaking, it should have been made before our client’s 21st birthday. However, we pointed out to them that the courts tend to adopt an understanding approach to claims made by abuse survivors and will extend the time limits in recognition that it can be extremely difficult for victims of sexual abuse to disclose what happened to them for many years.
Ultimately our arguments were successful. The legal representatives of the Jesus Army put forward an offer of compensation to settle the claim. After negotiation this proposal was increased and the claim was settled out of court.