March 22, 2006

Submitting to the faith

The Australian

A former altar boy plans to sue the Catholic Church for at least $1 million over alleged sexual abuse, reports religious affairs writer Jill Rowbotham

March 23, 2006
JOHN Ellis is a rarity in the sordid annals of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests - according to his lawyer, it is unusual for the church to fight civil law suits.

After a series of hearings in July, August and October, the NSW Supreme Court recently ruled the former altar boy from Sydney's Bass Hill parish could sue the trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the archdiocese of Sydney over five years of abuse by a priest, Aidan Duggan (deceased), starting when Ellis was 14.

Ellis's lawyer, David Begg, who has managed numerous civil claims against the church in NSW, says it is usual in his experience for the church to settle such cases out of court.

Because the church, represented by its solicitors Corrs Chambers Westgarth, decided to contest the action, Ellis, 45, had to satisfy the court that although in legal terms the traumatic events with Duggan were ancient history, and the time to seek formal justice over them had expired, his case was worthwhile. His side effectively argued that because it was only recently that Ellis realised the catastrophic effect on him of the regular sex sessions in the 1970s, he should be allowed to seek redress.

It also named the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, as one of the defendants, but the court ruled Pell could not be sued personally.

Posted by kshaw at March 22, 2006 04:10 PM