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A new model for seeking meaningful redress for victims of church-related sexual assault.

Ellis, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (2014) Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 26(1): 31-41.

In March 2014, Case Study 8, a public hearing of the national Royal Commission into
Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse focused on John Ellis’s experience both of
the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing protocol and of litigation. This article outlines
some aspects of these avenues of seeking redress following John’s abuse by a priest as a
child. It also discusses the challenges involved in the development of what some church
lawyers have come to refer to as ‘the Ellis Process’: an alternative, extrajudicial process
for seeking redress for survivors of church-related abuse. This process, advocated by John
and Nicola Ellis, aims to afford survivors of church-based sexual abuse greater autonomy,
responsiveness and satisfaction in seeking redress from the Church in a way that is
restorative of dignity, agency, connection, and hope of recovery. Redress that is
meaningful may be both financial and non-financial. John Ellis’s adverse experiences of
the ‘in-house’ church process and then litigation, point to the need to develop new redress
processes: processes not tainted by past attitudes and consequent failures; processes that
can provide a form of victim advocacy to alleviate the power imbalance and the sense of
futility that many victims, including John, have experienced in pursuing a complaint of
sexual abuse against a religious or other powerful institution. (excerpt)


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