Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Catholic Church dragging out sex-abuse case of dying man Catholic Church has dragged out for more than a year the case of a seriously ill abuse victim who is seeking substantially more than the $40,000 he received as part of a settlement in 2011. 

This is despite an admission by the church that the man had been sodomised by several clerics.

Russell Clark, 58, has been fighting the Salesian Society -- a Catholic order linked to several abuse scandals at schools in Australia and overseas -- to review the settlement reached while he was recovering from two liver transplants and without him receiving legal advice.

Mr Clark is in an Adelaide hospital suffering end-stage liver disease. Since requesting a review in November last year, the Salesians have repeatedly asked for more evidence and information to prove the abuse.

They have only offered to pay for 10 counselling sessions and provided $10,000 in "pastoral payments" to him and his partner, Sandra Newchurch.

"It's all combative now," Mr Clark said. "I'm worried about dying and Sandra being left up shit creek."

The office of the Salesian Society said no comment could be made because officials were on a religious retreat this week.

In the 2011 settlement, the society admitted that Mr Clark was abused by the headmaster and other clerics at the now closed boarding school. He was aged 11 and 12 at the time of the abuse.

"It has been established that during 1967 and 1968 while he was a boarder at Salesian Brothers College at Brooklyn Park in South Australia . . . he was unlawfully physically and sexually assaulted by various Salesian priests or brothers including (now deceased headmaster) Father Patrick Laws," the settlement agreement said.

The document further states that officials "recognise their pastoral obligations towards (Mr Clark) but do not admit they are legally liable for any of the loss and damage claimed".

Mr Clark had told the Salesians that the first sexual assault occurred in the school's shower block, where a priest pushed him into a cubicle and sodomised him. 

The priest, who Mr Clark could only identify by face but not by name, then told him to defecate in the shower.

The same priest assaulted him several more times and another molested him at least once.
He said he was later sodomised several times by Father Laws.

"I thought that was normal (at the time)," he said yesterday. "You get told for so long that you're going to burn in hell, and then getting raped (by) the bastards. It was so horrible."

Mr Clark, who used alcohol and drugs to deal with the trauma, requested a review of the settlement because he alleges he was not informed of his right to receive legal advice. "They said, 'No, you don't need a lawyer'."

He has also requested a more "significant" payment. 

Mr Clark has since made oral and written submissions to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

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