Real life case study of a successful historic sex abuse claim against a Catholic Church school
Rachel Thain, a leading lawyer in our specialist sex abuse team, has successfully recovered compensation for a man who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a catholic priest when he was a pupil at a prestigious private Catholic Church school.
The man’s compensation claim was funded under our popular No Win, No Fee scheme.
It was a historic abuse claim, involving sex abuse which had taken place in the 1980’s. There had been a significant breach of duty, involving a man in a position of authority (as both an employee of the school and as a Catholic priest) using his status to sexually abuse our client and other boys at the school.
The abuse perpetrated by the priest went unpunished at the time. However, following a criminal investigation many years later the man was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to serve a prison sentence.
When dealing with the compensation claim the timescales involved and the availability of evidence was of key importance. Whilst the priest had been brought to justice and a criminal conviction had been achieved, it was over a decade prior to the compensation claim being made and therefore ‘limitation’ still presented a challenge in this case. However, our thorough investigations meant that key documents were located and could be relied upon in support of the compensation claim. We argued that the school was ‘vicariously liable’. This means that the school could be held responsible for the abuse perpetrated by the priest in his capacity of their employee.
The sexual abuse had a significant impact on our client and it was clear this needed to be explored in detail to ensure he received the correct amount of compensation. As is often the case in abuse claims, it had affected both his career prospects and his relationships. He only felt able to come forward and consider a legal claim after receiving extensive counselling which was aimed at addressing the psychological difficulties he had faced over many years.
We had to identify and locate relevant records, which is always a challenge in historic sex abuse cases because paperwork is often lost or destroyed. However we were successful in obtaining some highly relevant and useful material.
Specialist medical evidence was obtained to enable an accurate valuation of the claim to be made. The expert made recommendations for further treatment on a privately paying basis. The cost of this treatment was included in the compensation claim.
Once the case had been thoroughly investigated and the evidence pieced together we presented the claim to the the Catholic Church school. This led to negotiations taking place, resulting in offers and counter offers being made by both parties. Eventually an out of court settlement was agreed, with our client receiving a substantial compensation payment.