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Jesuit-run college abuse victim Patrick Raggett wins damages

  • 9 November 2012
  • From the section London
Patrick Raggett
Image caption Patrick Raggett said the abuse he suffered had long-term psychological effects on him

A former City lawyer from west London who claimed £5m damages over sexual abuse at a Jesuit-run school has been awarded £54,923 at the High Court.

Patrick Raggett suffered years of abuse by Father Michael Spencer, a teacher at Preston Catholic College in Lancashire, who died in 2000, the court heard.

Mr Raggett claimed he suffered years of under-achievement at work, a failed marriage, binge-drinking and a breakdown as a result of the abuse.

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, allegedly observed him naked, photographed him, filmed him and touched him inappropriately.

'Insidious' abuse

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 aged 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 claimed the abuse had significant long-term psychological effects on him but lawyers for the governors questioned his credibility and said his problems are caused by environmental and hereditary factors.

Lady Justice Swift at London's High Court said he was not entitled to an award as large as the £5m he had claimed and awarded him £40,000 for pain and suffering, plus interest and expenses, including the cost of therapy.

"I am well aware that the conclusions I have reached in my judgment will be disappointing to the claimant and that its contents may cause him some distress," she said.

Mrs Justice Swift was asked to conduct a review of Mr Raggett's life history, from his early childhood and schooling to student days at Liverpool University and law school in Guildford.

"There is no doubt that he was the victim of an insidious form of abuse involving a grave breach of trust and that he has suffered significantly as a result," she said.

"As a result, he is deserving of sympathy."

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