140 Men Sue Church for Sex Abuse

BBC News [United Kingdom]
August 3, 2006

More than 100 former pupils of a Catholic children's home are suing for damages over alleged physical and sexual abuse suffered while in care.

Action is being taken by 140 men against the organisations responsible for running St William's Community Home in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.

If the claims are successful, damages could run into millions of pounds.

Former principal James Carragher was jailed for 14 years in 2004 for abusing boys in his care over a 20-year period.

He was previously jailed in 1997 for seven years for abusing nine boys.

The men are suing the Diocese of Middlesbrough, which owned the home, and the De La Salle Brothers, a Christian order of lay teachers.

'Widespread abuse'

The solicitor coordinating the legal action, David Greenwood, said the men claimed they had suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of a number of members of staff at the home.

But Mr Greenwood, of Wakefield-based Jordans Solicitors, said investigations were still at a "very early stage", though he hoped the legal action would be concluded by the end of next year.

He said: "Physical abuse was widespread. It was rare for a boy to go through the St William's system without being subject to cruel punishment.

"There are a large number of men whose lives have been blighted by what happened at St William's. Money won't change that but it will provide recognition of what they had to go through at the home."

'Much regret'

A spokesman for the Diocese of Middlesbrough said it was aware a significant number of men were currently making claims for compensation.

"Those activities alleged to have taken place are to be regretted very much"

Diocese of Middlesbrough spokesman

He said the diocese had cooperated fully with Operation Algate, an investigation by Humberside Police into claims of abuse at the home.

He said: "As a result of Operation Aldgate a number of criminal prosecutions have been brought against former staff members at St William's, many of whom were members of the De La Salle teaching order, responsible for the day to day management of the home, but to date all have been acquitted except for James Carragher.

"Given the number and complexity of the allegations being made, the only appropriate way to respond to them is through the courts.

"Without prejudicing the cases, those activities alleged to have taken place are to be regretted very much and there is an awareness that the young men involved have been significantly affected."

A spokesman for the De La Salle order said it was inappropriate to comment until the legal process was complete.


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