Chile court opens door for more Church sex abuse victims to seek damages

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's Catholic Church should prepare itself for an onslaught of new civil suits from victims seeking compensation for past cases of sexual abuse, a lawyer who successfully sued the Archdiocese of Santiago said on Thursday. Juan Pablo Hermosilla said a Chilean court's decision on Wednesday to force Chile's most influential archdiocese to pay his clients more than $400,000 (£306,701.4) in damages has opened the door for other 'victims of abuse in church settings,' to seek financial compensation

Reuters March 29, 2019 04:06:56 IST
Chile court opens door for more Church sex abuse victims to seek damages

Chile court opens door for more Church sex abuse victims to seek damages

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's Catholic Church should prepare itself for an onslaught of new civil suits from victims seeking compensation for past cases of sexual abuse, a lawyer who successfully sued the Archdiocese of Santiago said on Thursday.

Juan Pablo Hermosilla said a Chilean court's decision on Wednesday to force Chile's most influential archdiocese to pay his clients more than $400,000 (£306,701.4) in damages has opened the door for other "victims of abuse in church settings," to seek financial compensation.

The appeals court decision is the first to require Chile's powerful Roman Catholic Church to pay damages related to an ongoing sex abuse scandal that last year prompted Pope Francis to apologise to the church's community worldwide.

"The Archdiocese of Santiago should consider creating a reparations commission," Hermosilla told Reuters. "This would be a good way to avoid the exhausting and destructive process of dealing with each case in court."

The deepening abuse scandal in Chile last week led Pope Francis to accept the resignation of Archbishop of Santiago Ricardo Ezzati, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church in Chile.

His replacement, Bishop Celestino Aos, said following Wednesday's court ruling that Chile's justice system was handling each accusation "case by case" but said he could not predict what might come next.

Aos said those who feel violated should feel free to act, adding that the Church was seeking "truth, justice and reparation."

Wednesday's unanimous appeal's court decision required the Archdiocese to pay 100 million pesos ($146,000) each for "moral damages" to Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton. The men accuse former Santiago parish priest Fernando Karadima of having sexually abused them decades ago, and the Church of having covered up that abuse.

Aos said the Church would not appeal the ruling.

Chilean investigators are investigating 158 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-up involving 241 victims, of which 123 were underage at the time of the abuse, according to the latest statistics from Chile's state prosecutor's office.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.