Second person joins settlement case against Whanganui’s Society of Saint Pius X

Stuff [Wellington, New Zealand]

January 12, 2024

By Federico Magrin

A person who says former Whanganui priest Father Damian Carlile sexually abused him has decided to join a settlement case started by another complainant, Bo Tamati.

Carlile, an Australian priest, is accused of sexually abusing children in the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) in Whanganui in the early 2000s.

Several parishioners who say they were abused by Carlile as children have accused the global SSPX organisation of protecting the priest by moving him to another country to avoid prosecution.

Julian*, who told Stuff he was sexually assaulted by Carlile as an altar boy in the early 2000s, would join Tamati in seeking compensation from the church that he said failed to protect them.

Tamati was also an altar boy during Carlile’s tenure.

The church’s suppression of allegations of sexual abuse allowed the abuse to continue, Julian said.

Stuff made repeated attempts to discuss the allegations with the church, by email, phone calls, WhatsApp calls, and in person, but no answers were provided.

Special counsel lawyer Mobeena Hills from Shine Lawyers was heading the case against SSPX, which would be New Zealand’s first settlement case against the society.

They were seeking just under $900,000 in compensation per survivor, but would have to wait until the Royal Commission Inquiry into Abuse in Care released recommendations and redress schemes, she said.

The religious charitable trust owned properties in Auckland, Wellington and Whanganui.

Data from Auckland City Council, and QV showed that the society, together with the religious confraternity Dominican Sisters of Wanganui, owned properties worth more than $21m.

Hills said the settlement process could take up to 18 months because faith-based institutions often tried to argue the claim was laid too late under limitation laws, or that ACC legislation was a barrier to compensation claims.

Victims received little compared to what had been taken away from them, she said.

Hills said initially they approached the society to discuss a private settlement suit, but the church refused to participate.

So the case would instead be taken to the Human Rights Commission.

A 2019 statement from the society on protocols about sexual abuse acknowledged that “all abusers should be held accountable before the civil authorities” and “those who have suffered from sexual abuse” must be compensated.

The settlement case came as a 37-year-old man connected to the church faced charges of indecency in the Whanganui District Court.

The defendant was due to reappear in court on February 7.

*Julian’s name has been changed to protect his identity.