Reposted from a story by: Chief Court Reporter Sean Fewster From: The Advertiser January 08, 2013 10:30PM
Brian Perkins, a former bus driver for intellectually disabled Catholic students. Source: The Advertiser
IT took a decade to bring paedophile bus driver Brian Perkins to justice and another 10 years to assess the damage to his intellectually disabled victims.
Yesterday, the Catholic Church – which allowed Perkins to serve as a volunteer – asked that more than $7 million worth of compensation claims be postponed for as long as five years.
The church told the District Court the only way it could gather evidence to counter the claims was to psychologically study the victims over an extended period.
The parents of the victims, who are in their 70s, fear they may die before the claims are resolved – leaving their now-adult children without carers. Between 1987 and 1991, Perkins filmed and sexually assaulted 36 students attending St Ann’s Special School, Marion, where he volunteered as a bus driver and teacher.
He escaped arrest until 2002, was jailed a year later and died in custody.
In 2003, Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson offered “unconditional” payouts of $50,000 or $100,000 to 30 families.
Four sets of parents, however, filed claims of between $1 million and $4 million, saying the school and church failed to protect their children.
The parents want the compensation to guarantee ongoing care for their children after their deaths.
The Advertiser understands that since Perkins’ arrest the victims have received counselling through Yarrow Place.
That process has been complicated because the victims struggle to communicate verbally. Court papers assert that counsellors believe the victims’ psychological harm was exacerbated because their trauma went untreated for 10 years.
Yesterday, the church said it needed to hire its own experts to assess the victims. It conceded that could take up to five years, and suggested the case be postponed until it had been done.
Lawyers for the parents objected, saying it would cause the lawsuits to drag on indefinitely.
They said the church had already demanded the release of their clients’ medical records, causing delays. They asked the court to instead appoint a judge to oversee the claims.
That judge, they said, should act as a mediator and steer the claims towards resolution.
The case was adjourned until April