Patrick Raggett, Sexually Assaulted By Priest At School, Claims £5m Damages

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Patrick Raggett leaving the High Court in London
Patrick Raggett leaving the High Court in London

A former City lawyer who claims he made a mess of his life because he was sexually abused at a Jesuit-run school has taken the latest step in his claim for £5m damages.

Patrick Raggett was subjected to years of insidious abuse by Father Michael Spencer, a teacher at Preston Catholic College in Lancashire, who died in 2000 aged 76.

Patrick Raggett leaving the High Court in London

Between 1970 and 1974, the priest, who was his form teacher and coach of the football team he captained, observed him naked, filmed him, photographed him and touched him inappropriately.

The abuse, which began when he was 11, was not penetrative and resulted in no physical injury but Mr Raggett, who has waived anonymity, says it left him feeling "violation, dread, isolation, shame and humiliation".

Now 54, and married with a child, he says he did not connect his experiences at school with years of under-achievement at work, a failed marriage and binge-drinking until he had therapy after an April 2005 breakdown.

The governors of the college, which closed in 1978, denied liability and said the case was brought too late but, in 2009, Mrs Justice Swift ruled against them and today began assessing what compensation Mr Raggett is due.

He claims that the abuse had significant long-term psychological effects on him but lawyers for the governors have questioned his credibility and say his problems are caused by environmental and hereditary factors.

Mr Raggett's counsel, Andrew Prynne QC, said a detailed review of his life history was necessary - from his early childhood, schooling, student days at Liverpool University where he read English, a short accountancy traineeship and law school in Guildford before he became a solicitor.

One of only two children from his primary school to pass the 11-plus and go to Preston Catholic College, a prestigious academic grammar, where he was in the scholarship stream and took his public exams a year early, Mr Raggett was plainly regarded as "very bright", said counsel.

"Despite being regarded as that, his results were lacklustre - not disastrous but not up to the sort of potential one would expect.

"To what extent does one see, even at that stage, any causal link between what was going on behind the scenes with Father Spencer and Mr Raggett's ability to apply himself and fulfil his potential at school."

He said the issues for the court were what were the effects of the abuse on Mr Raggett's developing personality as a boy and the long term consequences, and how they manifested themselves in his behaviour in his professional and personal life.