July 01, 2005

Record damages for sex abuse by Catholic priest

The Times

By Frances Gibb and Ruth Gledhill

A MAN sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest was awarded record damages of more than £700,000 yesterday for what the judge described as the “grossest breach” of trust.

The victim, now 35, was abused over ten years between the age of 7 and 18 by Father Christopher Clonan, his priest and family friend, at Christ The King Church in Coventry. He now suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual abuse often several times a week.

He was awarded £635,684 — a total of £704,000 with interest — by the High Court in Manchester, the first such award by a judge in a case of this kind. It is twice the sum of a £330,000 agreed settlement in January 2004 for another victim of the same priest, Simon Grey, who was an altar boy.

It paves the way for up to 25 other cases in dioceses across Britain, and several against the same priest, and could result in a multimillion-pound damages bill against the Roman Catholic Church. The award, against the Archbishop of Birmingham and trustees of Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, was the first ordered by a court.

Posted by kshaw at July 1, 2005 07:34 AM