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NZ Marists deny abuse liability

The Marist Fathers in New Zealand are denying legal liability for a former priest who sexually assaulted a Christchurch youth, saying the encounter was casual and outside his church role.

The New Zealand Herald reports today that Alan Woodcock (pictured) was jailed for seven years in June after admitting abusing 11 boys from 1978 to 1987 when teaching in four of the congregatinn's schools.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said Woodcock's offending was an "appalling" breach of trust as a priest, teacher and counsellor.

Another of Woodcock's victims, who was 17 at the time he was abused in 1979, is pursuing compensation from the Marists.

The society is offering a one-off payment of $A4725 to the Christchurch man, now 43, but is refusing any legal liability for the incident.

In a letter in August, the society's lawyer Peter Connor wrote that the meeting between Woodcock and the victim was "casual" and unconnected with Woodcock's then status as a Marist priest.

"The Society of Mary has never had any legal liability in this matter," he wrote to the victim's lawyer.

Woodcock was extradited from Britain in January to face charges, after an 18-month court battle to bring him home. He admitted 21 charges of abuse, and 13 other counts were withdrawn.

Catholics deny abuse liability (New Zealand Herald/NZPA 11/10/04)

Court ruling angers pedophile priest's victim (CathNews 17/11/03)
Ex-priest to be extradited on child sex abuse charges (CathNews 6/2/03)

11 Oct 2004