Lawyers say Catholic Church admits liability for claims from sexual abuse survivors
The Catholic Church may have opened itself up to hundreds of potential damages claims from sexual abuse survivors after admitting liability in court documents.
- A sexual abuse victim known as JCB is expected to claim more than $1 million in compensation
- Lawyers claim the church knew for decades about Father Gerald Ridsdale's crimes
- The case of JCB is set for trial on January 29
Lawyers for one of Father Gerald Ridsdale's victims said the church had for the first time acknowledged to a court it knew of a complaint about one of Australia's worst paedophiles, as far back as 1975.
Ridsdale is believed to have sexually assaulted hundreds of children over 40 years.
Lawyers say the admission of liability was made in court documents in a damages case currently before the Victorian Supreme Court.
A man known as JCB was raped by Ridsdale in 1982, when he was nine years old, in the tiny Victorian town of Mortlake.
He is expected to claim more than $1 million in compensation.
His lawyers claim the Church knew for decades about Ridsdale's crimes and breached its duty of care by moving him to other parishes where he was able to sexually abuse many other children.
"We have admissions from both a former bishop of the diocese and the diocese itself and we understand that's a first in Victoria, possibly Australia, in terms of the Catholic Church actually admitting liability in an historic child abuse case," said lawyer Chris Atmore.
Ms Atmore said the church has only admitted that it received one complaint, in 1975 when Ridsdale was a parish priest in the town of Inglewood, near Ballarat.
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