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Abuse survivor must be paid almost $2.4m by Tasmania diocese

23 February 2024

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Bishop Newell gives evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at a hearing in Hobart in 2016 (News, 5 February 2016). He died in 2022

Bishop Newell gives evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at a hearing in Hobart in 2016 (News, 5 ...

THE diocese of Tasmania, in Australia, has been ordered to pay almost $A2.4 million (£1.24 million) in damages to a survivor of sexual abuse.

The survivor, John Steen, who is 53, told the Tasmanian Supreme Court this week that he had been abused by the Revd Louis Daniels in the 1980s, when Mr Steen was aged between ten and 16. Mr Steen had disclosed the abuse in 1987 to the then diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Phillip Newell, but no action had been taken, and Daniels had been appointed as an archdeacon two years later.

Mr Steen disclosed to the Bishop again in 1994. After this, Daniels resigned, and was deposed from Holy Orders in 2002. He is currently serving a third prison sentence for child sexual abuse.

The Supreme Court heard that the diocese had first been aware of allegations against Daniels in 1981.

Handing down his judgment in the civil action, Justice Michael Brett said that the abuse suffered by Mr Steen had been “serious and damaging”, and that the effect had been made worse by the Church’s handling of his disclosures. Bishop Newell’s primary concern had been the Church’s reputation, Justice Brett said.

Bishop Newell died in 2022.

The current Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie, expressed surprise at the size of the damages awarded, which, he said, were the largest that the Church had been ordered to pay an individual. He was sorry, he said, that his predecessors had not dealt with abuse complaints appropriately: “Things are very different now.”

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