To avoid compensating child sex abuse victims in the U.K., the Catholic Church claims victims “consented” to being raped and sexually abused by Catholic clergy.
In a deplorable but not surprising revelation the Catholic Church in the U.K. has been caught exploiting a legal loophole to deny child victims of sexual abuse compensation for their suffering at the hands of Catholic clergy.
According to multiple reports, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied children raped and assaulted by Catholic clergy financial settlements because the victims are said to have “consented” to their abuse.
In the U.K. children under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity. However, in a move favorable to the financial interests of the Catholic Church, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is using a different set of criteria to decide whether victims are eligible for compensation.
The criteria ignores criminal law and “considers consent as a question of fact.” The criteria, which is most favorable to the financial interests of the Catholic Church, leads to the following paradoxical claim:
A victim can consent in fact even though in law they may be deemed not to have consented.
In other words, the absurd criteria protects the financial interests of the Catholic Church by asserting that underage victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic clergy may be found to have consented to their assault.
And lawyers for the Catholic Church are happy to use this deplorable and despicable strategy of blaming and shaming victims in order to save the church a little bit of money.
For example, in one case, lawyers representing the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark claimed that the rape of a 15-year-old “actually occurred in the context of a consensual relationship.”
About the deplorable and despicable strategy of the Catholic Church, the victim said:
I was below the legal age of consent anyway and there’s a grooming element to that kind of situation. It was totally disregarded and it made me feel really small.
One case that the charity Victim Support brought attention to involved a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, brought into woodland and then sexually assaulted… The girl was denied compensation because she had “voluntarily” gone into the woods with the man.
Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield denounced the new legal strategy, noting that no child gives their “consent” to being sexually abused by Catholic clergy:
No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defense, although still quite rare, is worrying.
I have contacted the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) previously and again recently about this issue and the government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it…
Responding to the story, and in a rather pathetic attempt at damage control, the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark claims it “supports the right of anyone who has suffered harm to seek compensation.”
Bottom line: The Catholic Church is an immoral and despicable organization that will protect pedophile priests while they blame and shame children in a vain attempt to protect the church’s reputation and save a little bit of money.