Religious order to stand trial over horrific abuse

ROE HEAD: The building where the junior seminary ran until 1984.
ROE HEAD: The building where the junior seminary ran until 1984.

Evidence of historic sexual abuse at a Mirfield religious school will be considered in court for the first time later this year.

Numerous allegations of horrific abuse by priests and teachers at St Peter’s seminary in Roe Head, Far Common Road, during the 1960s and 1970s have been made in recent years.

However, despite £120,000 in compensation payouts, the cases have not reached court and there has been no apology or finding of guilt.

But a case will finally be tried in November this year, after former pupil Peter Murray, 57, launched his bid for a substantial damages payout.

The Liverpool-born nurse is suing the Verona Fathers, the religious order behind the college, for the abuse he says he suffered when he was a child.

The High Court heard Mr Murray went to the seminary in Mirfield hoping to become a priest, when he was only 11-years-old.

There, he says, he was subjected to a campaign of abuse at the hands of one of the teachers - the now dead Michael Ribble.

Mr Murray’s barrister, Mary O’Rourke QC said: “Our case is this is someone who has been sexually abused as a child and still suffers the implications of it today.

“He never got to follow through his vocation, because he became messed up and mixed up.”

Ms O’Rouke said Mr Murray had not only been abused himself, but had also walked in on another pupil being molested during his time at the college.

At a preliminary hearing this week, Mr Justice William Davis read out some of the medical evidence which is believed to be central in the case.

Mr Davis said that the alleged abuse, which took place at a crucial point in his emotional development, had left Mr Murray with ‘distorted notions of intimacy’.

The court heard Mr Murray detail what he says happened to him in a series of diaries at the time of the abuse and in an autobiography that was published last year.

He grew up in West Derby, Liverpool, before going to the school in Mirfield.

Unable to progress into the priesthood, he instead became a nurse.

The Verona Fathers will contest liability in the trial, which is currently scheduled for mid-November.