'Ellis defence' invoked in damages claim

Jennifer Herrick

A disabled woman, already compensated in a claim of sexual abuse by her priest, has spoken out against the Church for relying on the 'Ellis defence' to fight a new legal claim, Yahoo 7 News reports.

Jennifer Herrick says the Church is still using the controversial legal precedent to block victim's claims, despite Cardinal George Pell telling the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse that victims should be able to sue the church.

Ms Herrick was a shy 19-year-old with a severe physical disability when her local priest struck up a friendship with her.

'He made me feel normal, he made me feel like my walk didn't matter,' she said.

Ms Herrick says when she was 22, the priest initiated sex with her. 

'I had no idea who to turn to, who do you turn to for something like this?' Ms Herrick said.

The priest maintained a secret sexual relationship with Ms Herrick for 14 years but ended the relationship by telling her he had just been 'experimenting.' 

'I lost everything, career, I didn't have a family, no children, lost my job, lost my superannuation. I'm really really behind the eight ball,' Ms Herrick said.

In 2011, she complained to the priest's Order, which admitted he had behaved inappropriately. She was offered $100,000 in compensation and she says she took it because she was about to have surgery and her mother was gravely ill.

She now wants a full hearing of her claim for damages in the NSW Supreme Court, but the Church's lawyers have told her it will be relying on the Ellis defence in the case.

FULL STORY: Sexual abuse victim Jennifer Herrick fights Catholic Church's use of the 'Ellis defence' (Yahoo 7 News)

Sexual abuse victim Jennifer Herrick fights Catholic Church's use of the 'Ellis defence' (ABC News)

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https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/24352993/sexual-abuse-victim-jennifer-herrick-fights-catholic-churchs-use-of-the-ellis-defence/?source=wan

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