19 Jan 2009

Sex abuse victim slams 'hypocrisy' of church and Archbishop

The Australian - January 20, 2009

A VICTIM of pedophile Kevin "Skippy" Lynch has slammed as hypocritical the push by Anglican primate Phillip Aspinall to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse compensation cases.
by Michael McKenna | The Australian

Dr Aspinall last week confirmed he was leading a multi-denominational push to exempt child abuse victims from nationwide laws requiring they sue for compensation by the time they turn 21.
While the campaign was welcomed by child protection advocates, it was seen by some, including the victim of Lynch, fighting for compensation in Queensland's Supreme Court, as hypocritical, given the church's use of the time limits.
Lynch, a school counsellor who committed suicide in 1997, abused scores of children at Brisbane Grammar School.
"There is a gulf between his words and actions," the victim told The Australian. "It is noble that he is petitioning the Government, but he needs to ensure his dioceses' actions follow his words and they stop hiding behind statutory time limits."
In late 2007, after years of struggling with the lingering demons of his abuse, the hope of imminent justice was delivered to the victim in a letter from Dr Aspinall, in his role as Archbishop of Brisbane. Dr Aspinall offered a candid admission to the "enormity" of the abuse suffered by the victim and a desire to end years of failed mediation that was destined for the courts.
"I sincerely apologise for the hurt and pain you have experienced and I trust that you will be able to continue a journey of healing as you address the effects the abuse has had on you," Dr Aspinall wrote. "I reiterate my apology to you for the pain and distress you have suffered and hope we can move to a speedy resolution of your claim."
For the victim, the letter was a rare show of empathy and willingness to end his pain. "For the first time, I felt the church was maybe on my side, not his," he said yesterday.
And it gave him hope that he would not need to take legal action, which was being forced on him by the church.
Like child sex abuse victims around Australia, he faced a battle to overcome the statute of limitations before he could even be allowed to have his claim tested by the courts. Over the past decade, state governments and churches have blocked most child sex abuse compensation claims by using the statute.
It is these time limit provisions that Dr Aspinall is now trying to have removed so that the church can pay compensation using insurance money.
The church argues it was on its insurers' insistence that it used the defence.
Just after Dr Aspinall's letter was sent, another arrived from Rod McLary, the church's director of professional standards, telling the victim the church would not use the defence to sabotage his chance at a day incourt.
But two months later, the victim received a letter from corporate lawyers MinterEllison, representing the Brisbane diocese, stating: "We confirm that our client does intend relying upon a defence that your client is statue barred pursuant to section 10 and 11 of the Limitations Act 1974 (Qld)."
It was another betrayal for the victim. A year later, he is still fighting a costly legal battle just to have his case heard. Only a handful of cases have overcome the statute of limitations.
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