Paltry Payouts to Child Sex Abuse Victims

Daily Telegraph - 08/10/2013

CHILD sex abuse victims are being sent away with paltry settlement payments because the law is protecting the institutions like churches, lawyers say.

The Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sex Abuse is being urged to get tough on the state-based statute of limitation laws that give victims just three years to lodge a claim in court.

"When they molested the child they took away their human rights. When as an adult the victim tries to take action, then they take away their legal rights," lawyer Jason Parkinson said.

The commission has been told in submissions about one case where up to $22,000 each in "compassionate" payments were made to 41 victims who, as children, had been abused at the notorious Anglican-run North Coast Children's Home in Lismore.

However, one victim from the home, who sued in the courts and made it clear he would challenge the statute of limitation laws, recently received a confidential settlement believed to be around 10 times that amount.

In most cases, it has taken years for these people to speak up about the shocking abuse they suffered as children. Lawyer Jason Parkinson notes the institutions had taken advantage of that.

"The statute of limitations protects the abusers and the rapists," Mr Parkinson said.

By the time they felt strong enough to sue their abusers, these people are blocked by the laws.

Since 1990, the time to bring an action for personal injury was cut from six years to three and, while there are special provisions in exceptional cases, a maximum limit of 12 years applies from the time when the act or omission causing the injury occurred.


Courtesy of News Corporation, The Daily Telegraph, 2013

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