Michael McKenna, Sex abuse victim in plea to reform statute of limitations laws, The Australian
A victim of child abuse at a prestigious Queensland private school, who is about to be the subject of royal commission hearings, has called for the nationwide implementation of laws to prevent churches and schools escaping legal liability for covered-up cases of pedophilia.
The victim, “John’’ — who does not wish to be named — has been fighting for changes to statute of limitations laws. The changes were recently endorsed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but only Victoria has adopted the reforms. The royal commission will begin public hearings in Brisbane next week.
Brisbane Grammar School and St Paul’s Anglican School are being investigated over their response to the abuse of scores of students by two pedophiles; Kevin “Skippy’’ Lynch, at both schools, and Gregory Knight at the Anglican school.
Formal complaints had been made about Lynch more than a decade before he was eventually investigated, with the veteran teacher killing himself in 1997 just hours after being arrested.
A class action by 86 victims of Lynch was settled with the schools’ denying liability.
A victim of Lynch, John, has written a 75,000-word submission to the royal commission and has renewed a plea for legal changes to current Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that he first made to her Labor predecessor, Anna Bligh, in 2009. A professional, John, is expected to be a star witness at the hearing.
He launched legal action against the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane in a separate case in 2007 over his abuse by Lynch at St Paul’s in the late 1980s and early 90s. He sought compensation only for actual economic loss for unearned income and the cost of medical treatment. The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane admitted in 2008 that there was “concrete evidence” of his abuse and a forensic psychologist reported John had been injured as a result of the abuse by Lynch.
But diocesan insurers raised a voluntary time limit defence to defeat his case, which prevents victims from suing three years after they turn 18 — unless they have new evidence.
He was forced to settle his claim in 2009 and sign a deed releasing the diocese from any further claim.
The church took the stance despite Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall publicly backing John’s request to relax the statute of time limits on abuse cases, which he labelled “harsh and inequitable’’.
In a letter to then premier Ms Bligh, Dr Aspinall said the laws should be changed, but the government took no action.
“Despite my being such a reasonable litigant, the diocese exploited me and exploited the time limits, forcing me to settle my claim for less than 10 per cent of the actual financial losses that I could prove that I had suffered,” John wrote to Ms Palaszczuk.
John is determined to protect the rights of abuse victims. In a five-page letter to Ms Palaszczuk, he detailed how institutions had escaped liability. “Relying on their inherent morality … has been tried for the past 100 years and proven to have consistently failed,” he said. “Until these institutions fear victims … suing them as adults, these institutions will have no self-interest in maintaining the safety of children in their care.”
Ms Palaszczuk was not available for comment.
Full article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/sex-abuse-victim-in-plea-to-reform-statute-of-limitations-laws/story-fngburq5-1227584629247?sv=9979889889a7ff61822d22f5d0bdf963