Why a Melbourne Catholic Church will give a public apology

Date: Dec 07, 2016

In addition to monetary compensation, a Catholic Church in Australia is going to give a public apology to a survivor of sexual abuse. This apology will not only be for the initial abuse by a priest when she was a young woman but also because of the mental distress suffered after the church inadequately responded to the abuse.  

The case

A public apology to a victim of sexual assault will take place during a service at the St Francis church, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. This apology comes in the wake of the revelation of the Catholic Church's poor handling of the complaint through its internal legal process called Towards Healing. The church is also apologising for its subsequent reinstatement of the priest, John Knowles, who abused the victim, according to the Age. 

When the victim, Jennifer Herricks, came forward about her mistreatment during the Towards Healing process, the church also tried to silence her. The church's lawyers attempted to use the "Ellis defence," which is legal precedent that states that the church is not liable for the priest's conduct. The church also argued that Ms Herrick's case lacked merit because she had already secured a confidential settlement through the Towards Healing process.   

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse has criticised the Towards Healing process for this reason. In a report published in January 2015, The Royal Commission explains how they hope to tackle systemic issues with Towards Healing. For instance, the Royal Commission suggests more independence from the church in investigating these claims.

In Ms Henricks' case, she said that she did not feel like the church gave full recognition of the impact Knowles had on her life.

Getting compensation 

At Gerard Malouf and Partners, we're experts on the Church's internal complaint processes for sexual abuse allegations like Towards Healing. We're knowledgeable about how these organisations can cause more damage than healing by trying to silence the victim, refusing to pay full compensation and/or failing to dismiss the accused priest. 

If you have suffered mistreatment not only from being sexually abused but also after making a complaint through the church, you may be entitled to compensation. 

We will work with you every step of the way to get the compensation you deserve. Know that privacy is paramount to us and we will never publish case summaries in relation to sexual assault cases. Contact our compassionate and committed sexual assault compensation lawyers for an initial consultation today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts or email your enquiry.