Agence France Presse
Published — Wednesday 21 November 2012
Last update 21 November 2012 6:24 pm
LONDON: A Catholic brotherhood which sent teachers to work at a residential school in England can be held legally responsible for the sexual abuse of boys over a 40-year period, senior judges ruled on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court ruling is considered a landmark judgment which could affect claims of abuse at other institutions because judges said the brotherhood must share liability along with the local diocese.
The court in London heard that about 170 men are seeking damages from the De La Salle Brotherhood after claiming they were abused at St. William’s school in East Yorkshire, northern England, between 1952 and 1992.
The school educated boys aged 10 to 16 with emotional and behavioral problems. It closed in 1994.
The headmaster of the school, James Carragher, was jailed for 14 years in 2004 for sexually abusing vulnerable boys over a period of 20 years.
The 170 claimants say they were abused by Carragher and other brothers at the school, judges said.
The Court of Appeal ruled in 2010 that the Catholic diocese in which the school lay — the Middlesbrough Diocese — was solely responsible for a compensation claim amounting to £8 million (10 million euros, $12.7 million).
But the Supreme Court judges ruled it was “fair, just and reasonable” for the De La Salle Brotherhood, also known as the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, to share liability with the diocese in this case.
Cases of sexual abuse at Catholic-run schools and children’s homes have rocked countries such as Ireland, the United States and Germany in recent years.