THE HIGH COURT will hear the case of an African man who claims he was abused by an Irish priest working in an Irish-run school in Sierra Leone, TheJournal.ie has learned.
The plaintiff is suing the Spiritan congregation (formerly the Holy
Ghost Fathers) for damages.
The alleged abuser was a missionary working
in the school. It is the first time a survivor of alleged abuse in
Africa will take a case in the Irish courts.
Elvis Kuteh says that the Irish priest sexually abused him while he
was a student at the King College, an elite school run by the Holy Ghost
Fathers. As a result, he is taking a civil case against the Spiritans.
The Spiritans are represented in name on the court papers by Marc
Whelan, as he is the current provincial of the Spiritans and the ‘public
face’ of the congregation. He is NOT the priest against whom
allegations of abuse have been made.
The landmark proceedings, which will be heard later this year, could
pave the way for more complainants in Africa to take their fight for
justice to European jurisdictions, according to campaigner Mark Vincent
Healy, who is supporting Kuteh in the case, has urged the plaintiff’s alumni to give him as much support as possible.
“I have also asked that his foreign affairs and justice departments
extend whatever support and assistance, that can be offered without
Kuteh now lives in the UK.
Last year, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the
Catholic Church in Ireland’s audit into the religious order of the Irish
Province of Spiritans said case files “made for very sad reading” as
there was evidence of serial abusers working in school communities
“unchecked” for three decades.
The review also found it “reasonable to believe that there are other
victims of Spiritans who have not yet come forward. These victims may
be located in Ireland, Canada, USA, Sierra Leone and any other country
where the offending priests/brothers have worked”.
Both Ireland and Sierra Leone made pledges ahead of their candidatures for the United Nations Human Rights Council, 2013-2015.