Anglican Church sued over alleged failures with pedo youth group leader

The Anglican Church is being sued over allegations it enabled child sex abuse by allowing a pedophile to lead a youth group in the 1980s.

Barry Watson, who was jailed for sexually abusing children before taking his own life as he faced further charges, led the Church of England’s Boys Society Club (CEBS) youth group in Park Orchard in Melbourne’s northeast in the 1980s.

He abused multiple boys during his tenure, including at sporting events, on camping trips and while they were bathing.

One of his victims, James, not his real name, has launched a civil claim against the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, alleging the church knew or should have known Watson was accused of sexual abuse prior to appointing him, and failed to respond to complaints or refer them to police.

Arnold Thomas & Becker, who are representing James, said Manningham City Council were also being taken to court as some of the abuse took place at council-owned facilities such as the Domeney Reserve hall.

“By challenging the Anglican Church and the Manningham City Council in court, James is seeking compensation for a life shattered by trauma and addiction,” lawyer Cameron Doig said.

“For years, Barry Watson used his position in the Church of England Boys Society and on a Council committee to abuse numerous kids like James at the Domeney Reserve hall.

“We believe that abuse sparked widespread rumours and complaints from parents.”

Mr Doig encouraged others abused by Watson to come forward, particularly those who had complained to the church or council.

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