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Catholic School sued for sexual abuse suffered by a young student

Case Overview
  • Our young client was abused over a period of 12 months whilst in the care of her Primary school and in the care of her year 6 teacher.
  • We gathered strong evidence to prove that this teacher should never have been employed by the school in the first place.
  • We proceeded to a mediation with the solicitors for the Diocese and after much negotiations, we were able to reach a resolution for our client.

Our young client’s mother came to us seeking advice regarding sexual abuse her daughter suffered when she was a year 6 student and only aged 11-12 years of age. 

Our young client was abused over a period of 12 months whilst in the care of her Primary school and in the care of her year 6 teacher who was supposed to be a trusted member of the community and school. The teacher took advantage of his role and our vulnerable client. He groomed her and made her feel special. He isolated her. He abused her on multiple occasions including indecent assaults and sexual assaults during school hours and on school grounds and even after our client left year 6 for high school, he continued to groom her through social media. He was a predator and stopped at nothing.

It was our client’s mother who became suspicious, checked our client’s phone, and discovered her daughter’s year 6 teacher was grooming her daughter for sex. Our client’s mother immediately reported the matter to NSW Police who investigated the matter. It became apparent that our client was not the only victim and there were multiple young female students who were being groomed and sexually assaulted at the same time our client was being abused. The teacher was charged, and he plead not guilty despite the amount of evidence against him. He was convicted in court and he was sentenced.

"Although the effects of abuse on children may vary in nature and extent, it is undeniable that such traumatic experiences have life-long repercussions. Be it one’s future career trajectory, ability to build and sustain healthy relationships or maintain positive mental health and wellbeing – the consequences of sexual abuse on a person are often detrimental and can severely diminish a person’s opportunities in life."

JULIE BAQLEH
Our Approach

We commenced legal proceedings against the Diocese who employed the paedophile. We gathered strong evidence to prove that this teacher should never have been employed by the school. He had a history of complaints of sexual assault, a criminal record, and aliases. 

We had our client medically examined by an experienced child abuse psychiatrist. The medical evidence confirmed the abuse had a profound impact on our client’s life. As a result of the subject abuse, our client has unfortunately been forced to grapple with PTSD, depression, anxiety, traumatic flashbacks, as well as somatic symptoms, including headaches, vomiting, lethargy, dizzy spells, feelings of sickness, nausea and pain at such a young age. Our client also suffered from social withdrawal from friends and family and significant disruption to her education.

While the compensation received by our client will not resolve the traumatic experience of abuse that she had to suffer or reverse past wrongs. However, it does provide our client with recognition of the abuse she suffered as a vulnerable child who was isolated and powerless before the perpetrator who was in a position of power, trust, and authority.

The Result

We proceeded to a mediation with the solicitors for the Diocese and after much negotiations, we were able to reach a resolution for our client and her mother accepted an amount of compensation which a court later ruled was fair and in the best interests of our client.

Julie Baqleh Lawyer

Julie Baqleh

Partner
My idea of success is to offer my clients a sympathetic listening ear and to understand their needs.
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

Learning institutions serve as sanctuaries, where people of all ages can go to learn and discover new skills that can help them become more well-rounded individuals. Teachers and administrators play an important role in ensuring that this goal is achieved, and more often than not, they make all of us proud. Every day millions of parents trust their local schools with their children’s well-being. But what happens when the school falls short? From serious injury to child abuse and sexual abuse, incidents at school can have a lifelong impact. But when is the school itself liable?

What many victims may not realize is that a school can be held responsible even if they didn’t directly cause the injury — so long as their lack of reasonable preventative action contributed. Proving this, however, can be challenging.

Ultimately, if you, your child, or another loved one was harmed as a result of school negligence, you have options. The expert solicitors at Gerard Malouf & Partners can help.

 

Claims for compensation can be brought against both individuals and organisations. Examples of successful claims for victims of child abuse, sexual assault, physical and mental abuse that we have previously handled include:

  • Professionals who have held a position of trust such as doctors, teachers, psychologists and psychiatrists
  • The Department of Community Services in New South Wales and equivalent departments Australia-wide
  • Religious organisations including the Catholic Church
  • Actions against public and private schools, including boarding schools

 

A statute of limitations effectively sets a time limit on the start of legal proceedings. For offences that have a statute of limitations, claims have to be brought before the time limit expires.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault or physical or mental abuse as an adult, the statute of limitations is three years. If the victim was a child at the time of the offence there is no time limit.

 

The National Redress System was set up in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013 to 2017). It is designed to offer support and financial compensation to victims. Claims can be made until June 2027.

 

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