7 July 2023

Paedophile Maurice Van Ryn must pay $1.4m to victim for 'reprehensible' abuse

| Albert McKnight
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Maurice Van Ryn featured on the front page of The Daily Telegraph in October 2017. Photo: Ian Campbell.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

The notorious paedophile Maurice Van Ryn, the former CEO of Bega Cheese, has been ordered to pay one of his child victims about $1.4 million in damages due to the abuse forced upon him.

Van Ryn told the NSW Supreme Court he didn’t want to participate in the civil case at all when it was heard on Wednesday (5 July). However, the 68-year-old continued to watch the proceedings over an audiovisual link.

He has been behind bars since 2014, serving an 18-year sentence for sexually abusing 10 children between the early 2000s and 2014.

His non-parole period of 14 years and four months means he can be released from custody in April 2029, by which time he will be aged almost 74.

The victim in the recent civil case was aged between 14 and 15 when he was sexually abused by Van Ryn, Justice Nicholas Chen SC wrote in his published decision.

The first time he was assaulted, the pair was sitting in the spa at Van Ryn’s house.

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He also recalled Van Ryn raping him on several more occasions.

“Any time that the defendant did something to me, his wife was never at home,” he said.

The victim said on one occasion, he stayed the night at the house with another boy.

“This was something that had happened previously as it was more fun at his house than either of our houses because he had a pool, spa, tennis court and the internet was a lot faster,” he said.

On another occasion, he remembered Van Ryn offered him money to sexually assault him.

The victim said he became “very confused and depressed” and reached the point where he “couldn’t deal with it anymore”.

Justice Chen said he unreservedly accepted the victim’s evidence. He said before the abuse, the victim had been a happy, well-adjusted, thoughtful and caring young man who was excelling at school.

He said the effects of the abuse had a profound effect, leaving the victim with feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt and personal responsibility, along with “a constellation of other symptoms”, including insomnia, loss of control and difficulties when interacting with others.

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A consultant psychiatrist diagnosed the victim as suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder that he thought had been caused by the abuse.

The victim sought damages including for loss of earning capacity and superannuation entitlements, as well as for future medical and out-of-pocket expenses.

“I am satisfied that an award of exemplary damages is justified to fulfil the objectives of punishment, deterrence and condemnation, and for the disgraceful and reprehensible sexual abuse of a child,” Justice Chen said.

“The sexual abuse of the plaintiff demonstrates a deliberate and outrageous disregard of his rights by the defendant, over an extended period of time.”

He ordered a judgment of about $1,400,000 in favour of the victim and also ordered Van Ryn to pay the victim’s costs.

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