Abuse girls to sue new Archbishop

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Offline the leveller

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Abuse girls to sue new Archbishop
« on: November 11, 2012, 11:28:48 PM »
Church care home drug scandal: Abuse girls to sue new Archbishop
11 Nov 2012 13:10

A group of 11 women claim they were drugged at a Church of England care home with at least one alleging she was sexually abused

Under pressure: New Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby faces his first major challenge

The new Archbishop of Canterbury is set to face down his first crisis over a Church care home drug scandal.

A group of women who were forcibly overdosed at a Church of England-run home in the 1970s and 1980s are preparing to sue.

And at least one of the 11 women, now middle-aged mums, claims that she was sexually abused.

Archbishop Justin Welby, 56, who was appointed on Friday, will have to decide whether to accept the horrific claims or fight a legal battle if they sue.

Ex-resident Teresa Cooper, 45, who has spent two decades tracing dozens of victims and compiling a dossier about the abuse, said: "This is a major scandal and we want justice.

"For years no one has listened to us but that has to change. The Church needs to accept responsibility for what happened to us girls. Lives have been ruined."

The women, who were placed in care for social reasons as teenagers and had no mental illness, were given high doses of a "chemical cosh" at Kendall House in Gravesend, Kent.

In adulthood they gave birth to disabled children and put the blame on the drug overdoses.

The women, now in their 40s and 50s, had 24 children affected by conditions including temporary blindness, behavioural problems, learning difficulties and severe brain disorders.

Teresa, who lives near Chelmsford, Essex, is now working with lawyers after a 20-year battle to obtain her own files to prove what went on at the home.

She had three children born with defects and her own health is deteriorating rapidly.

She has rare joint and muscular problems that frequently leave her bedridden and unable to move.

Her doctors believe her problems were caused by her treatment while she was being cared for at the home.

Professor Jeffrey Aronson, a clinical pharmacologist who examined her files, says the type of drugs she was given can change genes and chromosomes, cause birth defects and lead to health problems in later life.

Prof Aronson says the dosages given to Teresa - often forcibly injected as she was held down by up to six staff - were unacceptable, particularly when given to a 14-year-old with no psychiatric history.

Teresa also claims she was sexually abused while in a drugged state.

No-one has ever been prosecuted for the alleged sex abuse despite Teresa reporting it to police. Teresa added: "Hopefully from the legal action we can get civil justice, but criminal prosecutions are also needed."

Kendall House - now a private block of flats with no connection to the Church - was closed in 1986 after Government inspectors raised concerns.

Church of England bosses did award Teresa a payout but would not admit liability for what happened to her.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council last week started an investigation into eight former staff at Kendall House.

The case is expected to be raised in the Commons on Tuesday by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemmings.

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