Sydney Criminal Lawyers (law firm blog)
January 28, 2020
By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
A Catholic priest from the Lismore diocese in Northern New South Wales is fighting the church over sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a 12-year old altar boy.
First case of a priest suing the Catholic Church
The case is believed to be the first involving a priest suing the church for historical child sexual abuse.
The Catholic Church is seeking a permanent stay to stop proceedings being brought against it, arguing that the priest took too long to come forward, and that the years between the alleged offences and the court case deny any chance of mounting a fair defence.
But many see this as just another attempt by the Church to silence a complainant so that details of the alleged incidents are never heard, at a time the institution claims to be working towards transparency and accountability, and doing right by those it has wronged.
What is a permanent stay?
The permanent stay is being sought in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
There is a statutory power for all courts in NSW to order a stay of any proceedings before the court, either until a specified day or permanently.
This means the proceedings are either suspended for a period of time, or stopped indefinitely.
In addition to the statutory power, the Supreme Court of NSW has inherent power to stay proceedings which are an abuse of process.
In court documents, the plaintiff alleges that he was abused in the 1960s by priest Clarence David Anderson, who is now deceased.
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