Senior Associate Thomas Beale and AO Advocates client Mike Sweeney have been featured on ITV Granada in a report on child sexual abuse claims against St Bede's College, a Catholic grammar school in Manchester.
Mike Sweeney is one of a group of former students of St Bede's who were sexually assaulted by Monsignor Thomas Duggan and two other staff members in the 1950s and 60s. Thomas Duggan was known for using 'punishment sessions' to groom pupils and sexually assault them, as Mike Sweeney describes in his account. Sweeney literally ran away from St Bede's when he learned he was due for another punishment session with Duggan. He told ITV: 'It’s been with me all my life. My main game in life now is to close the book on this before I die'. AO Advocates are currently representing a group of St Bede's students in pursuing charges against the Salford Diocese for the abuse.
Thomas Beale, who is representing Mike Sweeney, emphasises the need for the Catholic Church to acknowledge the abuse as an organisational failing, so that ex-pupils can find justice and other young people are not harmed: 'I'm a practicing Catholic myself, and I think it's important to remember that this isn't an attack on the faith but rather the Church as an organisation, and its continued failure to deal with sexual abuse within the Church'.
Sweeney recently spoke out about his abuse and its affects in light of the new Spotlight film that portrays the Boston Globe's exposure of rampant child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. As ITV reports, he and other ex-pupils 'hope the Diocese will acknowledge their claims and prevent a High Court battle later this year'.