Catholic Church Counts Cost of Sex Abuse Payouts

Channel 4 News
September 15, 2010

A Belgian cleric has admitted the Catholic church's failure to apologise for clerical child sex abuse is because of fears over litigation costs. But one expert tells Channel 4 News that UK payouts have varied widely.

For many, this week's announcement by the Bishop of Tournai confirmed what they already suspected, that the Catholic church's reticence on the issue is as much the result of material concerns as of misplaced prurience.

But there is a significant difference between awards for child abuse in different countries.

Solicitor Richard Scorer, a partner with Pannone LLP, has been involved in several claims against the Catholic church. He told Channel 4 News the biggest-ever payout in this country - for £630,000 - was in 2005, against the Archbishop and Archdiocese of Birmingham.

That calculation was based on a claim for such things as past and future loss of earnings. The actual damages for abuse in the case amounted only to £50,000.

"The biggest awards in child abuse cases are those involving people with essentially upper middle-class backgrounds because you can argue for greater potential loss of earnings."

That stands in contrast to countries like the United States, where much larger awards have been paid out to individuals.

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