NZ abuse claimant tells of deprivation

Four Catholic organisations are denying a woman's claims of physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse in the late 1960s and 1970s that have led her to sue the Church for $A493,000.

"Fancy being presented as a debutante when no one wants you," she laughed in the High Court at Wellington on Wednesday. And then she began crying. "And I am doing it so my brothers and sisters could be together."

New Zealand's Catholic Social Services paid for the dress and ticket and she and her foster family shared the cost of a pre-ball party. She and her six siblings were reunited for the occasion, she said.

The children were placed in care after their parents separated. Nuns mistreated and assaulted her and several men, including a priest, sexually abused her, she said.

The third day of the hearing was often stopped when the woman began screaming or crying. At one point she said she wanted to talk to "her little girl", an apparent reference to herself.

The 45-year-old, whose name is suppressed, clutched a small soft toy as she was cross-examined.

Lawyer Greg Thomas, acting for the Archdiocese of Wellington, and Catholic Social Services, questioned whether all her requests to CSS had been refused as she claimed.

Meanwhile former St John of God brothers fighting prosecution for child-sex abuse have lost their New Zealand Supreme Court bid to have the charges thrown out.

Bernard Kevin McGrath and another former Catholic priest with name suppression appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn charges, alleging the evidence against them was too old to allow them a fair trial, a court judgment said.

But Supreme Court Justices Gault and Tipping said the men must go to trial before they could appeal against any charges.

The former priests were committed to trial on numerous charges of sexual offending against boys aged under 16 between 1968 and 1977, according to the Supreme Court judgment.

Appeals by the men relating to the age of evidence in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal were dismissed before they made their plea to the Supreme Court.

No date has been set for the two men's High Court trial.

Abuse claimant tells of deprivation (stuff.co.nz.NZLawyer 4/8/05)
Priests lose appeal (stuff.co.nz/NZLawer 4/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in New Zealand

Catholic brothers lose bid (NZ Herald 4/8/05)
Nuns may sue RTE over sex abuse claim on radio show (Irish Independent 3/8/05)
Archbishop Levada postpones testimony in sex-abuse case (Catholic World News 2/8/05)
Collapse halts sex-abuse case (NZ Herald 3/8/05)
Abuse claimant screams in court (stuff.co.nz 3/8/05)
Church in $550,000 abuse case (stuff.co.nz 31/7/05)

5 Aug 2005