A disabled woman is suing the former Superior of a Catholic religious order, alleging that he sexually abused her over 14 years and that others in the Church failed to act on their knowledge of what took place, reports The Australian.
Documents tendered to the NSW Supreme Court show former school teacher Jennifer Herrick, 61, alleges the priest repeatedly assaulted her without consent, including by forcing her to have sex in a park grandstand and within sight of other people.
The Church’s decision to reinstate the priest to public ministry in Melbourne last year, after it had agreed a $100,000 settlement with Ms Herrick over the alleged abuse, left her feeling 'revictimised,' the documents state.
A regular churchgoer since she was five years old, Ms Herrick’s statement of claim says she was taught that priests 'were superior to lay men and women … and were to be respected, revered and obeyed.'
The accused priest, a former Superior of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers religious order, initially met Ms Herrick at church, officiated at her father’s funeral and 'exercised power, control and influence' over her 'by reason of their relationship as priest and parishioner.'
Ms Herrick, who was a virgin and in her early 20s when the alleged sexual assaults began, is also suing the current and two former heads of the Catholic order, alleging that they failed to prevent the alleged abuse.
These officials allegedly failed 'to properly act on disclosures made to senior members of the order or the Church by (the priest) about his sexual misconduct,' the court documents state.
Disabled woman sues top priest (The Australian)
Marist Brothers review abuse compo cases (Nine News)