Archbishop loses bid to reduce payout to an altar boy who was raped by a depraved Catholic priest in the bushes

Australian Associated Press [Sydney, Australia]

June 1, 2023

By Emily Woods

[Via Daily Mail]

  • Archbishop loses bid to reduce payout to altar boy
  • Victoria man to receive almost $2 million in damages
  • He was abused by former priest Desmond Gannon

A Catholic archbishop has lost a bid to reduce an almost $2million court-ordered payout to an altar boy subjected to horrific sexual abuse by a pedophile priest.

Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli launched an appeal of a Supreme Court decision to award $1.9million in damages to one of former priest Desmond Gannon’s victims, after being found vicariously liable for the abuse.

Gannon sexually assaulted the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, three times between 1968 and 1970 while he was an altar boy and pupil at a Catholic primary school in regional Victoria.

The priest drove the 11-year-old boy out to a remote bush area where he molested and raped him. He was terrified Gannon would get a shovel, kill and bury him. Gannon was jailed for up to 25 months for the abuse in 2009.

The victim said the abuse had impacted his entire life as he continued to suffer poor mental health, contemplated suicide and abused alcohol to numb his pain.

He was awarded $1,908,647 in damages, including for economic loss and future treatment expenses, by Justice Andrew Keogh in June 2022, with the judge finding Gannon’s abuse to be ‘horrific’.

”The impact of the abuse reshaped every aspect of his life in a dramatically destructive way,’ he said at the time.

Archbishop Comensoli appealed the payout, claiming it should be reduced because some of the victim’s injuries were caused by factors outside of the abuse.

His lawyers claimed some of the man’s psychological, physical and economic injuries were caused by an unstable upbringing, his parents’ separation and a culture of drinking with his peers.

But three justices rejected the appeal on Thursday, finding the archbishop’s arguments were unconvincing.

The Court of Appeal judges said the victim continued to suffer the impact of the abuse to this day.

‘The abuse occurred at a time when the respondent was young, extremely vulnerable and dependent on those around him for care and support,’ Justices David Beach, Richard Niall and Stephen Kay said.

‘His ability to navigate the inevitable challenges of life was severely compromised.’