How we Obtained Compensation for a Client who was Abused by a Priest as a Teenager

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Hywel Thomas Profile Picture
Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

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Our client Mr J first approached us in early 2022, He told us that from the age of 16 he had been groomed by a priest who was part of the Diocese of Newcastle and Hexham.

He was invited to join a Church Group and attended regular meetings with the priest and others where physical contact though prolonged hugging, and kissing on the mouth were normalised. This contact then escalated to serious sexual abuse.

Our client has planned to join the priesthood himself though decided against this as a result of the abuse.

As is common in cases such as this Mr J found it difficult to tell anyone about what happened to him as a teenager.

In adulthood he developed an addiction as a result of the abuse. He attended the Priory Hospital for treatment though this was of limited benefit to him.

In 2005 he found out that the priest had passed away.

Only in 2015 when he was 40 years old did he feel able to disclose the abuse to anyone in any detail. He contacted the Diocese of Newcastle and Hexham and told them about what had happened. They arranged for a safeguarding officer to visit Mr J to investigate further. The safeguarding officer informed the police who took a statement from Mr J though as the priest was no longer alive, there were no further steps for the police to take.

Unfortunately, Mr J’s addiction continued to impact on his wellbeing and relationships so in early 2020 he attended a residential rehabilitation centre. He used his savings to pay for this, though he then wrote to the Diocese to see if they would fund this for him, and they agreed to pay.

We were approached by Mr J in early 2022 as he felt his recovery was going well, and he felt able to pursue a claim. He needed advice on whether he would be able to obtain further compensation in addition to the cost of the therapy that the Diocese had already paid.

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At the outset we advised Mr J that the claim was not straightforward as it was being brought many years out of time, the priest had also died 17 years previously and the allegations of abuse had not been put to the priest.

We agreed to fund Mr J’s claim on a no win no fee basis, and we started to investigate the claim. We obtained his records from all the places that had treated him throughout his life, and we obtained the police file before taking a full statement from him. As we had the police file, Mr J did not need to go through the abuse with us in any detail. We then sent a detailed letter of claim to the defendant setting out what had happened and the impact this had had on our client. Following some communication with the Diocese’s insurers they then investigated the claim and came back to us with an offer in the sum of £25,000 having not seen any medical evidence.

Our client was happy to consider settling his claim on this basis. We advised him of the risks of potentially under settling the claim without a medical report confirming the extent of his injuries and the cost of any further treatment he would need. We obtained the advice of a specialist barrister with considerable experience in this area of law who was able to advise on the basis of the evidence we had gathered to date.

We negotiated with the defendant who increased the offer to £30,000. Our client was happy to accept this figure and payment was made to him in August 2023.

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