Church faces huge bill as abuse victims go to court
A High Court action has begun to decide the first cases in one of the biggest compensation claims involving the Catholic Church arising from allegations of historical sexual abuse.
A total of 249 men have lodged claims against the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Institute, which ran the St William's children's home in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.
If the claims are successful the payouts are expected to run to millions of pounds.
Earlier this year the former head of St William's, James Carragher, was jailed for a third time after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.
Carragher (75) was jailed for nine years in January.
He was jailed for seven years in 1993 and a further 14 years in 2004 for offences at St William's, which closed in 1992.
The judge in the most recent trial said he and co-defendant Anthony McCallen had the boys at the school "effectively trapped" and added: "It is difficult to imagine a worse case of breach of trust."
McCallen (69), a former chaplain at St William's, was sentenced to 15 years for a series of sex offences. The jury heard how he had also been convicted of abusing two boys in the 1990s.
David Greenwood, from solicitors Switalskis, said: "This case is a test for our civil justice system. I hope it will be able to provide real justice."
The case, at the High Court in Leeds, involves claims from five of the claimants.
It is expected to last for three weeks.