Former lawyer abused by priest seeks £5 million

Posted: 2nd July 2012

A former senior lawyer who claims that his life and career have been blighted by abuse at the hands of a Jesuit priest has launched a bid for £5 million in compensation at the High Court.
Patrick Raggett, who has waived his right to anonymity, endured four years of sexual abuse by Father Michael Spencer who taught and coached him in the school football team at the Preston Catholic College, in Lancashire, during the early 1970s.
Andrew Prynne QC, representing Mr Raggett, said that the abuse was not violent in nature but often took the form of Father Spencer, now dead, ‘touching him sexually’ and ‘filming him in various degrading positions’.
The ‘insidious’ and repetitive abuse - which occurred when Mr Raggett was between 11 and 15 - took a serious toll on the bright and precocious student, whose studies were also affected by the mistreatment, said Mr Prynne.
In May 2009, Mrs Justice Swift opened the way for Mr Raggett to pursue a damages claim against the school’s Governors, saying that she had ‘no doubt that he was the victim of a sustained course of sexual abuse and assaults by Father Spencer’.
She found that Mr Raggett’s account of the abuse was ‘entirely compelling’. He had endured feelings of ‘dread, shame, humiliation and violation’ of which he could unburden himself to no one at the time.
Mr Raggett’s case has now returned before Mrs Justice Swift, who is being asked to assess the amount of his compensation. On his behalf, his lawyers are claiming more than £5 million in damages.
Although Mr Raggett enjoyed a highly successful career as a solicitor for over 15 years, he claims that his career path was blocked by memories of the abuse which, after many years ‘in denial’, returned to haunt him as an adult.
Mr Prynne said that the central issues in the case are the level of the psychological damage caused by the abuse and the extent to which it ‘adversely impacted’ on Mr Raggett’s personal life, career prospects and earnings.
The hearing is continuing.