November 8, 2011
Victims of clerical sexual abuse will find it easier to bring compensation claims against the Catholic church after a judge ruled it can be held responsible for the wrongdoings of its priests.
In a test case heard at the high court, Mr Justice Macduff gave a decision in favour of a woman, known as JGE, who claims she was sexually assaulted by a Portsmouth priest at a children’s home in Hampshire.
The judge said although there had been no formal contract between the church and the priest, the late Father Baldwin, there were “crucial features” that should be recognised.
He said: “He [Baldwin] was provided with the premises, the pulpit and the clerical robes. He was directed into the community with that full authority and was given free rein to act as a representative of the church. He had been trained and ordained for the purpose. He had immense power handed to him by the defendants [the trustees of the Roman Catholic diocesan trust]. It was they who appointed him to the position of trust, which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.”