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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Priest abuse victim wins pay-out
Father Christopher Clonan
Fr Clonan died in Australia in 1998 while on the run from British police
A man who was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest has been awarded damages of more than 600,000 at the High Court.

The man, known as A, was abused by Father Christopher Clonan over a 10-year period from the age of eight when the priest worked in Coventry.

Now 35, he suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is believed the case could result in further claims totalling millions of pounds against the Church.

Fr Clonan died in Australia in 1998 while on the run from British police.

The damage that he has done is deep and lasting
Archdiocese of Birmingham

An amount of 635,684 was awarded by the High Court in Manchester against the defendants, the Archbishop of Birmingham and the trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

Mr Justice Christopher Clarke said at the High Court on Thursday the abuse had been regular - between one and three times a week.

"The abuse went undetected for so long because, initially, A did not comprehend what was going on, and latterly he was too afraid to speak, thinking that he would not be believed, as Father Clonan told him would be the case," he said.

The defendants admitted legal liability for "failing to prevent these activities".

'Position of trust'

The Archdiocese of Birmingham said it had been in contact with the claimant and his family since the case.

In a statement, it said: "The Archdiocese deeply regrets that a priest should have totally misused his position of trust in such a way and apologises again to those who have been abused and offended.

"This trust was placed in him by the Church and especially by his parishioners. The damage that he has done is deep and lasting.

"The Archdiocese hopes that this settlement will bring some resolution of the distress and anguish experienced by the claimant and his family."

Representatives for A said after the case: "We very much hope that the Church will now offer realistic compensation to all those who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests so that victims and their families can be spared the trauma of giving evidence."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear from another man abused by the priest



SEE ALSO:
Man suing church over sex abuse
15 Mar 05 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Compensation for former altar boy
12 Jan 04 |  West Midlands
Police satisfied priest is dead
08 May 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
New claims over 'sex abuse' priest
27 Nov 03 |  West Midlands
Church tackles child abuse
19 Jun 02 |  England


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