Man who was sexually abused as a boy denied compensation

CICA ruling goes against age of consent laws

Man refused compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

A man who applied for compensation after being sexually abused when he was 13 has been refused compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The man, now 19, was abused by 21 men, all separately. According to the CICA, the victim registered on websites for over 18s in order to meet gay men, but always told the men he contacted his true age. The men, including two teachers, were all convicted of sex offences, and the judge who dealt with the cases made it clear the victim was not to blame.

However, the CICA – the government body that pays compensation for the victims of violent crimes – took a different view. It ruled that because the boy met the men “willingly” and “consented” to sexual contact, he was not eligible for compensation.

The criminal law is clear on whether an under-16 can consent to sexual activity. The whole point of having an age of consent is that it is the age below which children cannot be expected to know fully what they are consenting to, or to have the necessary judgement to make those decisions.

The CICA in this case has ignored all of that and instead used its own rules.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was set up to provide compensation for violent crimes.  The reason it is necessary is that although victims have the legal right to sue their attackers for compensation, the majority of people who commit such crimes do not have the money to pay.  Instead of taking legal proceedings to sue their attacker, a victim can instead apply for state compensation to the CICA.

As you might expect, there are rules within the scheme to set out who is eligible for compensation.  For example, if an applicant has a significant criminal record, generally they cannot claim money because their past activities will have cost the state money in terms of things like police, court and prison resources.

In this case, the CICA is relying on a rule that prevents someone claiming compensation where they have voluntarily involved themselves in the encounter that led to their being injured. The rule itself is there for good reason, and essentially is there to stop someone starting a fight, losing, and then trying to claim money for their injuries.

However, in this case it seems very harshly applied. The criminal law in effect says children cannot consent to sexual contact. The CICA is saying it disagrees, and that a 13 year old only has himself to blame.

Whilst the decision in this case should be shocking, to anyone who has dealt with the CICA regularly it will not come as a great surprise.

This is compounded by the fact that the CICA in its guidance to applicants goes to great lengths to emphasise that it is not necessary to use a solicitor, and that they will always deal with cases fairly.  How many cases, I wonder, are being dropped by applicants who don’t have solicitors to tell them when the CICA’s decision making has gone awry?

I would always recommend people use a solicitor when dealing with the CICA, even if it is just to check the final decision to see whether it appears to be the right one. In this particular case, human rights organisation Liberty is helping the applicant to appeal.

For further information and advice on making a compensation claim for being the victim of a violent crime or other personal injury claims please contact our Personal Injury team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk .

Author

Richard Moon, Senior Solicitor

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.