It has been just over a year since the Supreme Court ruled that victims of historic abuse at a school and children’s home for troubled boys near York should be paid compensation. Yet the victims are still waiting to receive any money or an apology.
The Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough and an organisation that were contracted to provide teaching at the school, the De La Salle Catholic Order, were found jointly liable for physical and sexual abuse that took place at St Williams school more than thirty years ago with some claims dating back to the 1960’s.
Recently The De La Salle Brotherhood and the former staff of the school in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, which closed in 1993, have challenged liability for any compensation and are currently disputing many of the abuse claims as potentially fraudulent.
Abuse allegations first came to light in the 1990’s after former teacher Father Anthony McCallen was jailed for two years for indecent assault and taking indecent pictures of young boys. The trial prompted allegations against Father James Carragher, the school principal. He was convicted in two separate trials for abusing boys in his care and jailed for a total of 21 years. In April 2014 he will be released from Frankland Prison in Durham.
Since Carragher’s conviction other staff at the school have been named in abuse claims. Noel Hartnett, the former Vice Principal at the school, was charged with three counts of physical abuse but acquitted for all of them in 2004. In a recent interview with ITV he claims some of those making claims are trying to capitalise on the situation.
ITV also claim they have been shown legal papers outlining compensation claims against the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Catholic Order made by former pupils at the school. However, they say the documents appear to contain inconsistencies between when the alleged abuse happened and when members of staff being accused worked at the school.
Operation Reno, a police investigation set up by the Humberside Police to investigate new claims of abuse at St Williams, has now been completed. The Crown Prosecution Service says it’s considering taking forward six new cases of abuse.
Out of over 200 claims currently being persued against the alleged abusers only three cases of perverting the course of justice have been passed to the CPS for further consideration. The overwhelming majority of those interviewed will have this accusation taken no further.
One of the alleged victims who was interviewed as part of the investigation told ITV he was questioned for five hours, forced to recount what happened to him and then released without charge. The CPS have said this man, like the overwhelming majority of those interviewed, will not be facing any action and Police have confirmed there is no suggestion he fabricated his claim.
At Jordans we represent the majority of the 200 victims with claims who have suffered physical and sexual abuse at St Williams. Our specialist abuse solicitors believe the victims they represent are not fabricating their claims. We find it concerning that victims who have made compensation claims have been arrested and questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and hope it does not stop people from coming forward and seeking justice.
Please read our other blogs relating to St Williams from June 2013.