Sexual abuse victim Jennifer Herrick fights Catholic Church’s use of the ‘Ellis defence’

7 News


June 30, 2014

A disabled woman who was sexually abused by her priest has spoken out against the Catholic Church for relying on the so-called “Ellis defence” to fight her legal claim.

Jennifer Herrick says the church is still using the controversial legal precedent to block victim’s claims, despite Cardinal George Pell telling the child abuse royal commission that victims should be able to sue the church.

Ms Herrick was a shy 19-year-old with a severe physical disability when her local priest, Father Tom Knowles, struck up a friendship with her.

“He made me feel normal, he made me feel like my walk didn’t matter,” she said.

Ms Herrick says when she was 22, Father Knowles initiated sex with her. It was sudden and painful and she felt powerless to stop him.

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