Abuse victim bids for £5m damages
- 29 June 2012
- From the section London
A former City lawyer who claims he has had a troubled life because he was sexually abused at a Jesuit-run school is seeking £5m in damages.
Patrick Raggett suffered years of abuse by Father Michael Spencer, a teacher at Preston Catholic College in Lancashire, who died in 2000, the High Court heard.
Mr Raggett claimed he suffered years of under-achievement at work, a failed marriage, binge-drinking and a breakdown.
The college closed in 1978.
Between 1970 and 1974, the priest, who was Mr Raggett's form teacher and coach of the football team he captained, observed him naked, filmed him, photographed him and touched him inappropriately.
The abuse, which began when he was 11, was not penetrative and resulted in no physical injury but Mr Raggett, who has waived anonymity, said it left him feeling "violation, dread, isolation, shame and humiliation".
Now 54, and married with a child, he said he did not connect his experiences at school with years of under-achievement at work, a failed marriage and binge-drinking until he had therapy after a breakdown in April 2005.
The governors of the college denied liability and said the case was brought too late but, in 2009, Mrs Justice Swift ruled against them and began assessing what compensation Mr Raggett was due.
He claims that the abuse had significant long-term psychological effects on him but lawyers for the governors have questioned his credibility and say his problems are caused by environmental and hereditary factors.
Mr Raggett's counsel, Andrew Prynne QC, said a detailed review of his life history was necessary - from his early childhood, schooling, student days at Liverpool University, a short accountancy traineeship and law school in Guildford before he became a solicitor.
He was one of only two children from his primary school to pass the 11-plus and go to Preston Catholic College, a prestigious academic grammar school, where he was in the scholarship stream.
He took his public exams a year early and was regarded as "very bright", his counsel said.
"Despite being regarded as that, his results were lacklustre - not disastrous but not up to the sort of potential one would expect," Mr Prynne said.
"To what extent does one see, even at that stage, any causal link between what was going on behind the scenes with Father Spencer and Mr Raggett's ability to apply himself and fulfil his potential at school."
He said the issues for the court were what were the effects of the abuse on Mr Raggett's developing personality as a boy and the long term consequences, and how they manifested themselves in his behaviour in his professional and personal life.
The hearing continues.