Diocese and parish vs. victim of paedophile priest: case settled
Marcin K., who was the first person in Poland to bring an action for protection of personal interests on the grounds of sexual abuse by a clergyman, has entered into a settlement with the Diocese of Koszalin-Kołobrzeg and St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Parish. Under the settlement, K. has agreed to drop his lawsuit against the parish and diocese. The respondents stated that “as a gesture of Christian charity” they compensated the claimant for his costs of psychological treatment.
At the age of 12, Marcin K. was sexually harassed by a priest, Zbigniew R. The abuse lasted for several months. In December 2012, the priest was sentenced to two years of unconditional imprisonment. Although the sentence has since become valid and final, the cleric has managed to avoid committal to prison, citing medical reasons.
In 2013 K. filed a lawsuit against Zbigniew R., the Kołobrzeg-Koszalin Diocese and St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Parish, seeking remedies against a violation of his personal interests. A court in Koszalin dismissed the case against the diocese and parish but decided to hear proceedings brought against the priest. Marcin K. seeks 50,000 zloty in damages for moral injuries from R. The hearing in the case has been adjourned sine die.
“We are pleased to hear about the settlement between Marcin K. and the respondent diocese and parish. This is clearly a landmark case, in which a victim of paedophilia in the Church has finally obtained a just outcome”, says Irmina Pacho, a lawyer with the HFHR. “The trial of Zbigniew R. hasn’t finished yet and we are definitely going to follow up on it”, Ms Pacho promised.
In many other countries such as Germany or the US, the Church has been entering into settlements with victims of paedophile priests, de facto recognising its own institutional responsibility in such cases.
Marcin K. was represented by Mr Wojciech Dobkowski, an advocate acting pro bono. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been observing the court proceedings in the case.