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Archbishop takes witness stand in compensation case for clerical sex abuse victims

Archbishop Charles Scicluna today took the witness stand to face cross-examination in the civil proceedings for damages instituted by 10 victims of clerical sex abuse

6 July 2017, 4:19pm
Archbishop Charles Scicluan
Archbishop Charles Scicluan
Archbishop Charles Scicluna today took the witness stand to face cross-examination in the civil proceedings for damages instituted by 10 victims of clerical sex abuse.

Members of the press were asked to leave the courtroom as his testimony was closed to the media.

The civil suit for compensation was filed in May 2013 by Lawrence Grech, Joseph Magro, Leonard Camilleri, David Cassar, Noel Dimech, Angelo Spiteri, Raymond Azzopardi, Charles Falzon, Philip Cauchi and Joseph Mangion.

Two priests, Carmelo Pulis and Godwin Scerri, tasked with caring for the orphaned children at St Joseph’s Home, were jailed in 2012 after the appeals court confirmed their conviction. They were found guilty of sex abuse on 11 underage victims entrusted to their care.

However, since all efforts by the victims to obtain monetary compensation for their suffering had failed, a civil suit against the Church was opened.

Following a decision by the superior court of appeal in March, the applicants had won a partial victory when the court ordered the recusal of Judge Joseph R Micallef. Doubt had been cast upon the latter's impartiality, as a result of his close ties to church organisations in his role as president of Radio Maria.

Acting in the best interests of justice, the court of appeal had sought to eliminate any doubt by ordering the case to be assigned to a different judge who would decide upon the merits of the claim for damages.

Proceedings were today continued before the First Hall, Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti.

Lawyers Franco Vassallo and Patrick Valentino are counsel to the applicants.