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Cleared Cathedral choirmaster seeks damages from Sydney Archdiocese

A Sydney choirmaster reinstated after being sacked for allegedly associating with a sex offender has launched a claim for damages in the NSW Supreme Court.

The Age reports that David Russell was sacked from his position as director of music at St Marys Cathedral in February 2003 over allegations he saw convicted paedophile and former cathedral acolyte David O'Grady molesting two boys in his inner-west home in the 1980s, but did nothing about it.

Mr Russell denied ever having witnessed any child sex abuse and successfully launched an unfair dismissal case with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).

He yesterday lodged a statement of claim against the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, claiming his efforts to settle the matter outside court had failed.

He said he had incurred costs of at least $350,000 in defending his reputation and is now in substantial debt.

"I am terribly upset that it has come to this," Mr Russell said in a statement. "I am so glad to be back at work after the trauma of those unfounded allegations and my sacking.

"A court, after hearing all the facts, has made a decision, now I want the church to live up to its Christian principals."

Mr Russell is seeking unspecified damages for "injury to reputation, distress, embarrassment, humiliation and hurt to feelings".

The IRC ruled in June last year Mr Russell could return to his job, a position he held for 28 years prior to being sacked.

IRC deputy president Rod Harrison said in his judgment the allegations were not sustained and they had been "harmful, unreasonable and unjust".

Cleared choirmaster seeks damages (The Age/AAP 8/2/05)

Archdiocese of Sydney | St Mary's Cathedral | Choir

Sydney Cathedral Choirmaster makes welcome return (CathNews 7/6/04)
Choirmaster to get job back (CathNews 2/6/04)
Cathedral Dean defends basis for sacking choirmaster (CathNews 20/8/03)
Choirmaster denies deceiving inquiry (CathNews 30/7/03)
Pedophile victim speaks out against sacked choirmaster (CathNews 7/3/03)
Sydney Church sued over St Mary's choirmaster allegations (CathNews 3/3/03)
Sacked Sydney choirmaster claims Archbishop was hijacked (CathNews 10/2/03)
Anger over sacking of Sydney Cathedral stalwart (CathNews 6/2/03)

10 Feb 2005