Catholic church swamped with hundreds of new sex abuse claims after legal change

The Age

September 25, 2019

By Chris Vedelago, Farrah Tomazin and Debbie Cuthbertson

The Catholic Church in Victoria is facing at least 800 new legal actions for child sexual abuse in the wake of landmark legislation allowing victims to sue the church and revisit unfair settlements made under in-house compensation schemes.

The state government’s decision to abolish the so-called “Ellis defence” ended the church’s long-standing immunity to lawsuits and opened a floodgate of new claims that is threatening the financial stability of religious organisations around the state.

Data collated by The Age and based on case files from eight law firms dealing in institutional abuse found an unprecedented number of legal claims are now before the courts or being drafted on behalf of victims of the clergy.

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