Man fails to sue Cardinal O’Brien over priest abuse

The unidentified man's attempt to sue  Cardinal Keith O'Brien has  failed. Picture: TSPL
The unidentified man's attempt to sue Cardinal Keith O'Brien has failed. Picture: TSPL
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A MAN has failed in an attempt to sue disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien over alleged sex abuse by a parish priest.

The 33-year-old from Bathgate, West Lothian, claims he was given cash and rosary beads to buy his silence.

The priest he blames for molesting him between 1989 and 1992 has since died.

The 33-year-old went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking £100,000 damages.

In papers submitted to the court, his lawyers tried to argue that Cardinal O’Brien and other senior figures in the Catholic Church’s hierarchy in Scotland should legally carry the blame - in the same way that an employer can be sued over an employee’s wrong doing.

The churchmen named in the action are the trustees of the Archdiosese of St Andews and Edinburgh.

The 33-year-old said they were responsible for the work of his former parish priest, who was also linked to the primary school and secondary school he attended.

But judge Paul Arthurson QC was told that the man had left it too late before raising his court action.

In normal circumstances there is a three year dead-line and the clock starts running either at the time of the incident or when the person trying to sue reaches the age of 16.

Lawyers for the churchmen argued that there were no special reasons why the 33-year-old man should not have begun his legal moves sooner.

He claimed it was not until recently that he discovered that the Archdiosese might be held liable for the wrong-doings of a priest.

His lawyers claimed a recent Supreme Court decision on “vicarious liability” in another case of abuse within the Catholic Church could bolster the 33-year-old man’s action.

The man claimed he had been given milk and biscuits by the parish priest who asked him to take his trousers down.

The man said said at first he thought he was just “being examined” and did not know he was being sexually abused until things went further.

He spoke to a psychiatrist in 1999 but did not, at that time, want the police to be involved.

The man claimed that as a result of what happened to him he lost interest in education and left school with no qualifications.

Later he turned to drink and drugs and became involved in violence and began vandalising church property.

Finally, he consulted a solicitor in May 2010 and it was only after that he was told that the Church could be regarded as the priest’s “employer.”

But Judge Arthurson ruled that the 33-year-old man’s claims could not avoid the three year time bar.

Earlier this year Keith O’Brien quit his role as leader of Scotland’s Catholic community after confessing to inappropriate behaviour. The scandal followed newspaper revelations.