Compensation system for alleged sex abuse flawed, says group

 

The Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE) group, which campaigns on behalf of religious and lay people who have been falsely accused of sex abuse, has claimed the system of compensation for alleged abuse is "seriously flawed" .

It says it encourages some who weren't abused to wrongfully claim payment.

Speaking at a meeting of about 40 people last Saturday, Ms Florence Horsman Hogan said the system increases the financial burden on the taxpayer, leads to the naming of innocent people and dilutes the horrific stories of those genuinely abused.

The taxpayer is being left "wide open" to false claims, said Ms Horsman Hogan. "There are so many allegations out there that we know for a fact are not true." She stressed that genuine abuse must be investigated but called for a tightening up of the investigations.

The current situation in which an alleged abuser can be named, but a victim can't, was unacceptable, she said. "The persons who's abused shouldn't be named before going to court." It was the first meeting organised by LOVE specifically for those claiming false abuse allegations.

Mr Eddie Hogan of Victims of Child Abuse Laws of Ireland, said it was an important meeting as there was an "epidemic of false accusations".

One participant Mr Patsy McGlinchey, who was acquitted of abuse charges by a jury in the Central Criminal Court after a 17-day trial in 2002, said he was shocked to see how many people had attended the meeting. However, the former nun Ms Nora Wall, whose conviction on a charge of rape was quashed in 1999, yesterday told The Irish Times that she was not surprised at the numbers.

Mr McGlinchey, who taught in a school for mentally-handicapped children, said he had been subjected to "a vindictive witch- hunt" which had destroyed his family and himself.

Despite being acquitted of all charges brought against him he had not worked for almost seven years since a parent of a child in his class accused him of abusing her son in 1997.

"Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent on this witch-hunt of me. Nobody has been made to answer for that."

He had been traumatised and victimised by social workers, the Garda and the community, he said. He had received death threats and he and his wife had not been able to allow any of their children to answer the phone for the last seven years.

He said a man had knocked him unconscious down the steps of the courthouse.

"For three years guards and social workers trawled around three counties putting words in children's mouths. I was accused of having done the most ludicrous of things."

He said part of the evidence used in his court case included a video of a social worker calling him a "bastard".

"The gardaí brutalised me; called me sick and a pervert. They said we have evidence you did this. You should be put in jail and kept there and the key thrown away," he said.