Sex abuse victim awarded only £55,000

Posted: 12th November 2012

A former high-flying solicitor whose life has been overshadowed by sexual abuse at the hands of a Jesuit priest during his schooldays has had his hopes of a £5 million damages award dashed by a High Court judge. Awarding Patrick Raggett, 54, just £54,923 damages, Mrs Justice Swift said that he was ‘deserving of sympathy’ for the years of ‘insidious abuse’ inflicted on him by Father Michael Spencer but had failed to prove that it had destroyed his legal career.RCJ

Father Spencer, who died in 2000, taught Mr Raggett at the Preston Catholic College, in Lancashire, and sexually abused him between the ages of 11 and 15 during the 1970s. As a result, Mr Raggett's youth was blighted by ‘intense feelings of dread, shame, humiliation and violation’.

His condition stabilised whilst he was at university but, in 2005, a Sunday lunch to which a priest was invited brought back memories and a ‘sudden overwhelming realisation’ of the extent of the abuse he had suffered 30 years before. He had ‘repeatedly ruminated’ over what Father Spencer had done to him but the judge said that, by 2009, his mood was lifting and Mr Raggett has since re-married and launched a fulfilling career as a therapist and counsellor.

Although the judge acknowledged that her ruling would cause Mr Raggett disappointment and some distress, she said: ‘I have been unable to accept Mr Raggett's contention that the abuse caused him to develop a number of recognised psychiatric disorders which caused him to behave in a way that eventually brought about the loss of his legal career.

‘Consequently, I have concluded that he is not entitled to the very large award of damages that he claimed. I have assessed the appropriate level of damages for pain and suffering in the sum of £40,000. Together with interest and expenses, including the cost of therapy, the total award is £54,923.03’.