Child abuse survivor set to take Anglican Church of Tasmania to court in legal precedent

The first time Harvey* claimed to have been sexually abused as a child was at a religious camp in the 1980s.

It was evening and Harvey claims he was in his dorm when a priest came in and sat right next to him on his bed.

Court documents allege that after rubbing his back, the priest put his hand on Harvey’s pants and rubbed his genitals.

The documents claim he only left when Harvey pretended to be asleep.

Harvey claims this has happened on more than one occasion.

Over the next few years, he claims, there were other cases of sexual abuse.

Although Harvey’s abuses were not proven in criminal court, he filed a civil suit against the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania in the Supreme Court of Hobart.

For its part, the diocese has admitted that the abuse took place and there are very few points of contention between the parties.

But there are enough disputes to put the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania on trial for the first time in its 180-year history.

The Harvey priest who claims to have abused him is Father Louis Daniels – a notorious pedophile with multiple child sex abuse convictions against him.

The camp he was in when he was allegedly abused was one of the Church of England Boy’s Society.

The society was described by the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as having a culture in which “perpetrators had ready access to boys and opportunities to sexually abuse those boys” with networks of offenders sexual.

As for Daniels, he also appeared at the royal commission.

Daniels became a priest in 1975. Six years later, in 1981, the diocese was made aware of sexual assault allegations against a 14-year-old boy.

The documents claim he admitted the allegations were true, was verbally reprimanded and asked to take advice.

Daniels did not resign until 1994. Despite the various allegations against him, he was kept in the church and promoted.

He has since been convicted of more than a dozen child sexual abuse offences.

$34,000 paid by the priest, not the church

Harvey claims the diocese knew or should have known that Daniels was a pedophile and sexually abused the plaintiff, as alleged.

It is one of the few allegations in the civil case that the diocese contests.

He admits that the abuse occurred, that he owed Harvey a duty of care to protect him from sexual abuse, and agrees that but for his own negligence, Harvey would not have been abused.

This is despite the fact that the allegations have not been proven in criminal court.

The main issue the church takes on is with the release deed that Harvey signed in the 1990s.

At the time, he was paid $34,000. Daniels paid the money, not the diocese.

This act stated that it released the church and other parties from “all claims, demands, disputes, suits or proceedings in connection with or arising out of the allegations of sexual assault.”

The church says the act of release “operates as an absolute bar to prosecution” by the plaintiff of any proceedings arising from the sexual abuse alleged in the statement.

Until recently, Harvey could not even have challenged this act in court.

But the royal commission changed everything.

Following countless reports of unfair settlements, he recommended that the courts have the power to strike down historic unfair compensation agreements.

It will be the first time in Tasmania that a court has been asked to overturn one.

Abuse survivor Steve Fisher said the case would test laws introduced after the Royal Commission.(ABC News: Monte Boville)

Beyond Abuse survivor and founder Steve Fisher said this is a really big deal for the state.

“It’s huge. It’s going to test the laws that were introduced in January 2020,” he said.

Mr Fisher said the deeds of release had been overturned in mediation since the laws changed, but had never been tested in court.

“Whether [Harvey] is successful this may well trigger an avalanche of people saying ‘no’ I’m going to court thank you very much because I know the terms of any settlement will be very different from what we would do if we mediated “, did he declare.

“Everyone is going to watch this case.

“There is a big difference between what you will be awarded in mediation and in court.”

As for Harvey, he claims that the deed of release he entered into in the 1990s was not “a fair, just, or reasonable assessment of his loss and damages as a result of the sexual abuse he suffered. suffered and of his psychiatric wounds”.

On Monday, his lawyers will begin trying to prove that in a civil trial in Hobart Supreme Court.

* The name has been changed.

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