Man Loses Priest Sexual Abuse Claim

April 24, 2009

A man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest in Coventry more than 30 years ago has lost his High Court damages claim.

The 45-year-old, who can only be identified as Maga, said he was abused by Father Christopher Clonan, who served at the Church of Christ the King, over many months in about 1976.

The whereabouts of Fr Clonan, who would now be 66, are unknown, although he may have moved to Australia and may no longer be alive.

Maga, who has learning difficulties and has never worked, did not complain about the abuse when he was 12 or 13, until 2006 after he learned that another man had been awarded damages from the Catholic Church for abuse he had suffered from the same priest.

The case against the trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, who denied liability, was brought on the basis that they were vicariously liable for the assaults on him and that they were negligent because a complaint allegedly made about Fr Clonan in 1974 was not followed up.

Mr Justice Jack, sitting in London, said he was satisfied that the essence of Maga's evidence was true and that sexual abuse occurred.

But he ruled that the assaults which Fr Clonan carried out on him were not so closely connected with his employment or quasi-employment by the Church that it would be fair and just to hold the Church liable.

Fr Clonan's association with Maga was founded on his use of the then boy to wash his car, do cleaning in the Presbytery and other houses and to iron his clothes, the judge said, before adding: "That employment was not a priestly activity. Fr Clonan did not do anything to draw the claimant into the activities of the Church."

It followed that Maga was outside any duty of care owed by the Church which, he found, was not liable for the assaults committed on him by Fr Clonan.

Maga, who brought the case through the Official Solicitor, was given permission to appeal.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.