Shamed Cardinal Keith O’Brien could be forced to give evidence in court over allegations that priest raped young boy

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS, now 33, claims he was raped and abused by a priest who has since died and O’Brien has been cited to appear in court.



SHAMED cardinal Keith O’Brien may be called to give evidence in court over allegations that a priest raped a young boy.

The potentially explosive case will force the former head of the Catholic Church in Scotland back into the public eye despite efforts by the Vatican to secure him a low profile.

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMSChristopher Williams, now 33, claims he was raped and abused by a priest, who has since died, in the 1990s.

Papers detailing his £100,000 civil personal injury case have been lodged in the Court of Session and the case is likely to be heard early next year.

Christopher’s legal team say they cited O’Brien, 75, because he had been told about the allegations.

Lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: “The Church say the priest involved was pursuing his own ministry, which is quite an interesting take.

“They have even denied that it is a priest’s duty to spread the word of God, which is astonishing given that is what they done for hundreds of years.

“We understand this may be a difficult situation given what’s happened with the cardinal and his apparent determination to stay out of the public eye.

“But there are procedures we can take to ensure he is cited to appear in court.”

O’Brien will be the highest ranking Church official ever asked to give evidence in a child abuse case.

Christopher claims he was raped and abused in a chapel house over a five-year period.

He was later sentenced to 100 hours’ community service for three break-ins at the house where he says the rape happened – incidents he describes as “cries for help”.

Hugh McLaughlin, a commentator on Catholic Church issues, said the lawyers face a difficult job finding O’Brien to serve court papers on him.

The Vatican rejected the shamed cardinal’s plans to retire to East Lothian and it is thought he has been told to stay away from Scotland.

McLaughlin said: “It will be an uncomfortable situation for both the Church and the cardinal.

“But he will be required to give evidence and tell the truth as anyone else would.

“The biggest problem is that lawyers acting for the claimant may have difficulty finding the cardinal to serve any summons. Without that, they cannot force him to give evidence.

“But even if the cardinal goes into refuge at the Vatican, he can still be compelled to attend court in Scotland by way of an application to the Vatican City Court.”

O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic, stood down in February after initially denying allegations of inappropriate behaviour following accusations by several priests.

He later admitted improper sexual behaviour.

O’Brien’s whereabouts are unknown after he was forced to abandon plans to retire to Dunbar, East Lothian, amid Vatican fears about his public profile.

Christopher, of Blackburn, West Lothian, declined to comment on his court case.

When he first made the rape claims, senior Church figures called the police but Christopher was too traumatised to speak to them at that time.

He gave an interview after first making the claims at the time of the Pope’s visit to the UK in 2010, saying: “It’s blighted my life and I’ve struggled with depression and feelings of worthlessness.”

Locum priest Father John Robinson, who is supporting Christopher, has repeatedly asked the Church for counselling for him.

Fr Robinson has also written to every bishop in Scotland asking for help for Christopher.

He said: “Very sadly no help has been forthcoming from the Church and Christopher had no choice other than to raise the legal action.”

A Catholic Church spokesman said: “It is the policy of the Church and all its officials to offer full cooperation in any investigations or legal action.”

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