The matter of Haynes by her tutor Karen Lindley v Haynes [2002] NSWSC 358 has recently been presided over by Justice Lonergan in the NSW Supreme Court and a judgement has been made that signifies a milestone for historic sexual abuse litigation.

The Plaintiff in the proceedings was horrifically sexually abused by her father when she was aged 4 to 11, between 1974 and 1981. Such abuse resulted in the Plaintiff developing Dissociative Identity Disorder, as well as ongoing and severe physical injuries. The Plaintiff’s physical injuries required a number of surgeries to be performed and provide her with physical challenges to this day.

Justice Longergan noted, “The perpetrator in this instance, Ms Haynes’ father, like most perpetrators went to some lengths to have her believe that it was her actions that resulted in her sexual abuse. Typically, he would couch abusing her in terms of her being punished for wrongdoing on her part.”

In 2017, the Plaintiff brought criminal proceedings against her father and her father admitted guilt in respect of a number of incidents of sexual abuse and was sentenced and received an aggregate term of imprisonment of 45 years with 33 years non-parole.

The Defendant did not actively defend the proceedings and a defence was not filed, resulting in liability being an uncontested issue through the entirety of the proceedings.

Ultimately, the Plaintiff was awarded a total amount of $840,000 in compensatory damages, with $100,000 being for aggravated damages, $500,000 for general damages and $240,000 being for interest on general damages.

This award is a significant leap in the ever-changing landscape of historic sexual abuse litigation as it signifies the highest award a judge has made for general damages to date. This clearly reflects the seriousness in which Courts assess sexual abuse offences and the pain and suffering victims have to endure for the rest of their lives as a consequence of such an offence.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, we urge you to speak with one of our experienced lawyers at Chamberlains Law Firm to discuss your options in seeking compensation.