Victim to sue church for counselling – not compensation

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By Christine Lavelle

A MAN who claims he was raped by a priest is to sue the Catholic Church – for counselling.

Christopher Williams, 30, says he was abused by a churchman for five years during the 1990s, which started when he was only eight years old.

His abuser has since died, and Mr Williams claims he is not suing for compensation but to get the counselling he needs to get his over the ordeal.

The action comes after Pope Benedict XVI apologised to the victims of sexual abuse.

He expressed his “deep sorrow and shame” over the abuse scandal during his four day visit to the UK, almost two weeks ago.

Mr Williams said: “The Pope is right to apologise but his words cannot help me cope.”

His lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, added: “I have acted for many abuse victims who have sought compensation but Christopher’s only concern is to get counselling so he can be well again.

“I had hoped that my many letters to the church asking for this would be answered, but we have been disappointed by their lack of response.”

His allegations come as weekend reports reveal that 415 victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Britain are still fighting for justice.

Many have been waiting for 14 years, and have decided now to speak out about their plight, accusing the church of stalling in the courts.

Graham Baverstock, 52, a victim of abuse, said: “Dragging us through the courts is causing incredible pain.

“It’s a disgrace and for me it makes the Pope’s apology meaningless.”

Mr Williams has been convicted recently of three break-ins at the chapel house where he says he was raped – calling the action a “cry for help”.

He is now on probation for one year, and was sentenced to 100 hours community service at Livingston Sheriff Court.

He said: “At 21, I suffered a breakdown after finally telling what was done to me.

“Afterwards, my life spiraled out of control.

“I took 80 euros on one occasion, but on the other occasions I broke in because I wanted to be caught.

“I wanted to tell why I was hitting back at the church.”

Mr Williams’ claims have caused a divide within the church, after a retired priest – Father Robinson – gave him his backing but was in turn assaulted by another priest after informing him of the allegations.

Scotland’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has reportedly been made aware of the claims.

Mr Williams and his family reportedly the incident to the church nine years ago, but he refused to give a police interview so no charges were brought.

His mother Mary McGinty, 51, said: “My son was so traumatised and afraid of the repercussions in a small community.

“A police officer took a statement from me.

“I watched helplessly as my son began to disintegrate in front of me.”

Mr Williams said he regrets “not being strong enough” to see the matter through when he was 21.

A church spokesman said: “The Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh [Cardinal O’Brien] is fully aware of Mr Williams’ allegations.

“He has instructed a solicitor to pursue a legal claim and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

“The archdiocese has a total commitment to the delivery of justice to all concerned in such matters and has co-operated fully with the police and the Crown Office.”

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