2020-01-27 22:28:35 UTC
Australian Catholic Church Tries To Prevent Its Own Priest From Suing
The Catholic Church is, yet again, trying to silence allegations of
sexual abuse perpetrated by a priest against a child.
Theres a plot twist, though: The child grew up to be a parish priest
in the Church hes now taking to court.
And, predictably, the Church hierarchy is trying to undermine his
chance at justice through financial and legal threats.
The unnamed plaintiff believed to be the first Catholic priest in
Australia to bring suit against the Church for child abuse alleges
that he was sexually abused in the 1960s, during his tenure as a
student in a Catholic boarding school. His alleged attacker, Clarence
David Anderson, was a priest and a teacher, and gained access to the
child when he was serving as an altar boy.
Anderson is now dead, but eleven of his surviving victims are seeking
compensation from the diocese for their experiences of abuse during
Andersons time in ministry.
The priest says he does not have an ax to grind with the Church; he
told the media he initiated the claim so he could move forward as a
priest in good standing.
But the Diocese of Lismore has responded by seeking a permanent stay
in the New South Wales Supreme Court to prevent the suit, saying that
too much time has elapsed since the alleged abuse to allow for a fair
trial. In a letter to the plaintiffs legal counsel, Mark Barrow, the
Church threatened to hold the plaintiff responsible for court costs if
he did not withdraw his allegations:
The delay in plaintiff [sic] bringing his claim (especially as he is a
Priest of the Diocese) has permanently prejudiced our clients (and
arguably all defendants) capacity to investigate, respond to, and
defend the allegations contained in the statement of claim. Your
client is invited to withdraw the statement of claim, and if he does
so prior to 6 February 2020 our client shall not seek a costs order.