Kerry’s Story

Abuse and betrayal paved way to troubled life

Offender/s:
Father Denis McAlinden

Kerry grew up on a family farm in the picturesque heart of the NSW Hunter Valley. Her family was Irish Catholic. Their local Parish Priest was Father Denis McAlinden.

Father McAlinden was a trusted friend of Kerry’s family. McAlinden would regularly call in to Kerry’s family home for a ‘visit’. Chillingly, he often arrived at the door armed with chocolates and lollies, asking to see Kerry. McAlinden began sexually abusing Kerry when she was just four years old. His abuse was frequent and brazen. McAlinden chose to violate Kerry in different locations around her family’s own farm. His gratification knew no bounds. As Kerry grew older, McAlinden would take her in his car to more secluded areas to carry out rape.

The abuse continued until she was 13 years old. For 10 years of Kerry’s young life. The Catholic Church’s chosen course of action was to move McAlinden to different parishes throughout Australia and overseas. Throughout this period, he remained officially listed as a priest of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese. McAlinden abused victims at every parish. On each occasion he abused little girls. In 2007 the Church publically admitted that McAlinden was a serial child sex abuser. The Church had known about McAlinden’s regular sexual abuse for decades. They did nothing.

Kelso Lawyers pushed the Catholic Church to concede that it should have protected Kerry. The Church admitted that McAlinden was an evil criminal and unreservedly apologised to Kerry for the abuse.

Father McAlinden died in 2005, before a NSW Special Commission of Inquiry found that senior officials of the Catholic Church had failed to assist police and report suspected child abuse by McAlinden.

Kerry unravelled through adolescence, unable to maintain relationships. She could not bring herself to trust men. She struggled with her self-image. As an adult, Kerry had several violent relationships with men. She continues to deal with her feelings of worthlessness. Kerry was diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She lives through vivid flashbacks and nightmares. Kerry has self-harmed, attempting suicide on several occasions.

Kerry has been able to pay off her mortgage and make plans for an overseas holiday with her son. The team at Kelsos are proud to have played a part in changing Kerry’s life for the better.

Now Kerry is a single mum doing her best to raise her young son. Kerry reached out to Kelsos for help in obtaining some sort of justice. We took on Kerry’s cause with passion and commitment. Our team worked tirelessly, demanding compensation from the Church. Within six months, Kelsos had brokered a settlement for Kerry. The Church acknowledged that they should have protected Kerry. The Church acknowledged to Kerry that Father McAlinden was evil, a criminal. Kerry received an unreserved apology. She broke down with emotion. She began to feel as if she had been set free. It was a turning point in her life.

Kelsos negotiated a substantial financial settlement for Kerry which was paid by the Church within seven days. She has received a written apology from Bishop Bill Wright. Kerry has been able to pay off her mortgage and make plans for an overseas holiday with her son. The team at Kelsos are proud to have played a part in changing Kerry’s life for the better. This pride motivates us each and every day as we fight passionately for people like Kerry.

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