‘Legal abuse’ tactic of Catholic Church decried

Newcastle Herald

By JOANNE McCARTHY June 29, 2014

THE Catholic Church has warned a woman it will block her compensation claim by using a defence that was severely criticised at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Victorian order, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, has advised Central Coast woman Jennifer Herrick it will raise the High Court decision known as the Ellis defence to block her claim against its trustees when the matter returns to court in August. The trustees hold the order’s assets.

The order’s use of the defence has been condemned by solicitor and child sexual abuse victim John Ellis, whose unsuccessful compensation case against the Catholic Church led to the 2007 decision that has insulated the Church from claims against it ever since.

The commission’s investigation in March this year of the Church’s handling of Mr Ellis’s case included an admission by Cardinal George Pell that Church litigation against Mr Ellis amounted to “legal abuse”.

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