FORMER residents of a notorious Catholic-run children’s home have protested outside a church to raise awareness of their ongoing trauma and delays in a long-running compensation battle.
The protest by two men who were once at St William’s approved school for boys at Market Weighton, came after 24 years of prison sentences were handed out its former head and chaplain in January.
Darren Furness and Nigel Feeley, both from Leeds, handed out leaflets to congregants at St John’s Church, in Beverley, which is run by the Diocese of Middlesbrough and had overall responsibility for the home’s management.
They want to raise awareness that despite four police investigations, three trials and £20m spent on just the civil cases so far, victims have not yet received an apology.
Mr Feeley, 56, from Morley, Leeds, was in the home for around a year when he was 14. He said he had lived “a life of pain, hurt and mental torture” since then and was seeing a psychiatrist: “You get people saying: ‘It didn’t happen. You’re jumping on a bandwagon.’ It’s like kicking you in the teeth, it did happen and I am still here fighting.
“I want people to please get it sorted. I’ve lived with it a long, long time, I want to close it now and finish it.”
Mr Furness, who claimed he was physically assaulted by a member of staff, who has since died, added: “It is just frustrating. I still have flashbacks and wake up in the night crying. The care system destroyed my life.”
While one or two churchgoers were dismissive, others expressed concern at the Roman Catholic Church’s stance.
One elderly woman said it was a “stain” on the church, which needed to be resolved.
Another said: “I just think the church should sit down with the victims. It is a very difficult situation for them. I feel disappointed they won’t do it. I am dedicated Catholic and would like to think these people could get some peace.”
A civil compensation case started in 2004 has still not reached a conclusion. Five test cases will be going to the courts in October to establish their validity.
Solicitor David Greenwood, who represents more than 100 former St William’s residents, said the De La Salle Brotherhood, which provided staff to the St William’s home, was not insured, but in 2012, the Supreme Court decided the Diocese of Middlesbrough had overall responsibility. He said they needed to do the “right thing morally: find some money to pay back these victims.”
He said: “Since 2012 we have been hopeful that they would understand that the writing was on the wall for them and that they would have to make settlements with the men. We have been trying to get them to negotiate but they have refused.”
No one was available to comment from the Diocese of Middlesbrough yesterday.