“Co-chair of victims’ committee urges archdiocese to settle” & related article

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The Western Star (Corner Brook, NFLD)

Published on May 25, 2013

Barb Sweet  RSS Feed

The Telegram

— Telegram file photo

The Mount Cashel orphanage, 1989

The co-chair of a committee of representative victims of the Irish Christian Brothers is calling on the Archdiocese of St. John’s to take the Christian Brothers settlement as a sign and accept a role in the sex abuse scandal.

On Thursday, a settlement was reached with the Catholic lay order, the Christian Brothers, that affects 160 victims of sexual abuse in

St. John’s — mostly former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s. Some 10 per cent of the victims were other school children.

The victims include people who were at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1940s right up to when it closed in the late ’80s. The legal battle for those victims stretches back to the late 1990s.

The settlement does not prevent the abuse victims from taking action against the archdiocese.

“So they have a part to play,” said the man who can’t be named. “They are the overseers. We will see how ‘Christian’ they are and how quickly they want to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion. Those boys, they have been hurt. They need to be compensated for pain and suffering. Let’s get it done. Lot of churches are not about healing and faith, they are about power and money.”

Speaking for the Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s Friday, vicar general Rev. Frank Puddister said the archdiocese has been working as quickly as it can to address all claims of abuse against it.

In relation to the Christian Brothers’ settlement, he said the archdiocese welcomes the news as a “big step forward.”

“What we can do is look and see, do we have liability?” he said.

“Examine this and say ‘What response do we give to the claims?’ … Are we liable or not liable? We will receive the best advice we can and hope to bring it to a conclusion.”

He said the archdiocese did not have direct supervision of the Christian Brothers.

The Christian Brothers settlement includes a $16.5-million cash payment from the Christian Brothers and one of its insurers and affects 400 men and women in the U.S. and Canada who say they were molested as children by members of the Christian Brothers.

The committee approved terms and conditions of an agreed-to reorganization plan in the Chapter 11 cases of The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

It must be voted on by all the claimants: requiring two-thirds acceptance.

Details will then be worked of who gets what compensation.

The committee co-chair was at Mount Cashel in the 1940s, along with four brothers, also victims.

Since the Chapter 11, he and the other six members of the committee — two of which were formerly orphanage residents, participated in weekly teleconferences.

It was like looking in the mirror when he met the others on three occasions and when he heard other victims’ stories from across the U.S.

“It kind of hit you. You were not a little island out there in the middle of the Atlantic alone,” he said.

“I met the real, live victims and it’s not only me anymore. … That’s a big thing. It kind of knocks you backwards. It was so big and so common.

“You read it in the paper —  Ireland, Australia —  those are faraway places you hear about. There is no truth in hearing things. There’s truth when you get somebody face-to-face and can see the emotion, feel their pain. They can feel your pain.”

He said there’s no amount of money that can remove the taint of the horrific abuse, but there are some never compensated victims that can use the funds to help them get on with their lives.

He thanked the legal team, which included Geoff Budden of Budden, Morris law offices in Mount Pearl.

Another man, not an orphanage survivor, said he was fondled in Holy Cross at the age of 11 or 12 on different occasions in the 1960s and doesn’t want school victims to be overlooked. He’d always suspected his older brother was also abused and about a year ago, the conversation came up.

“My exact words were ‘I (expletive) knew he molested you,” said the man who doesn’t want his name used either.

The man is indifferent to Thursday’s settlement.

“Its not about the money. It’s the accountability, bringing those bastards to justice and accountability,” he said.

“Nobody can ever imagine or realize what you go through.”

The settlement cash could potentially be increased by several million because there is an outstanding lawsuit involving a high school in the Bronx area of New York, plus dealings with other insurers that haven’t been settled, as well as the future sale of three properties.

Billy Earle, who was at the orphange in the 1970s and testified at the Hughes Inquiry, received compensation previously. It is not clear if or how he or other victims already dealt with will be affected by the settlement announced Thursday. But he was astounded at the extent of holdings.

“It goes to show the essence of the Catholic organization, how they take stuff and hide it,” Earle said Friday.

He said the order should have settled matters when the abuse came to light and as victims came forward.

“To drag it on another 20 years, this late is ludicrous,” he said.

In a news release Friday, lawyer Bob Buckingham also said the claims could have been settled many years ago.

“The resistance to settle by the Christian Brothers, the Roman Catholic Church and responsible governments delayed these survivors realizing justice and obtaining compensation. No amount of money can compensate these men for the abuse they suffered and the long process they have had to endure to achieve this settlement,” he said.

The Justice department would not comment on the settlement due to outstanding claims against the province.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Comments

  • Username
    DON II
    – May 25, 2013 at 10:56:07

    It appears that the duplicitous connection between Church and State in Newfoundland is rooted in historical connections that date back over 400 years. It appears that the Church and State in Newfoundland are one and the same in practical terms and each has depended on and worked with the other to maintain power and control over the people in Newfoundland and Labrador. I commend the lawyers and the victims who are prepared to take on the Church and the Government of Newfoundland. Regrettably, that task will be difficult, costly and protracted as the Church and State will use their enormous power and financial resources to inordinately delay, obfuscate, misdirect, blame the victims and fight any and all challenges to their centuries old entrenched power. Justice must be done and must be seen to be done. The lawyers who take on the Church and State must be willing to resist the urge to settle quickly for less rather than to persevere over a protracted time frame to obtain the maximum compensation possible. The battle between good and evil is never ending! Someone once said that evil prevails when good people do nothing to stop it. The Government of Newfoundland has a long and sordid history of cover ups, wrongful convictions, abuses of power and authority and abuse of persons based on an arrogant, draconian and imperious concept of the use of political power that has not changed since the beginning or organized Government in Newfoundland!

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  • Username
    Jay
    – May 25, 2013 at 10:19:59

    “the settlement includes…………..400 men and women….who”SAY” they were abused.” Are Barb Sweet and the Telegram the only ones still contesting this on behalf of the Christian Brothers?

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New settlement includes Mount Cashel victims

The Weekend Telegram

Published on May 24, 2013

Published on May 24, 2013

Barb Sweet  RSS Feed

Former Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's. — Telegram file photo

Former Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

A new settlement has been reached with the Catholic lay order, the Irish Christian Brothers, that affects 160 victims of sexual abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s.

The settlement includes a $16.5-million cash payment from the Christian Brothers and one of its insurers and affects 400 men and women in the U.S. and Canada who say they were molested as children by members of the Christian Brothers.

Geoff Budden of Budden, Morris Law Offices in Mount Pearl, who represents 90 former Mount Cashel residents, said it will take several months for the allocations to be worked out and eligible victims to receive cheques.

The plan will still require a majority vote of all the claimants, but a select committee has approved it.

Clients can continue with claims

The settlement does not prevent any of the Mount Cashel clients from continuing their claims against the Catholic archdiocese of St. John’s, nor the U.S. victims from pursuing action against Catholic organizations there.

The victims include people who were at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1940s right up to when it closed in the late ’80s. The legal battle for those victims stretches back to the late 1990s, and Budden deemed Thursday’s announcement an important one for them.

The cash could potentially be increased by several million because there is an outstanding lawsuit involving a high school in the Bronx area of New York, plus dealings with other insurers that haven’t been settled, as well as the future sale of three properties, said James Stang of Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl & Jones, counsel to the official committee of unsecured creditors for The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

The committee involved seven representative victims appointed by the U.S. Justice Department, although three of the men were Canadian abuse victims, Stang said.

According to Stang, ownership of the high school in the Bronx was transferred years ago in an attempt to protect it and he credited Budden with uncovering documentation Stang believes will result in that property being handed over to the creditors.

Budden’s firm participated with several U.S. law firms in mediation presided over by Judge Elizabeth Stong of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Stang expects everything will be resolved within two years on those outstanding matters and said the settlement also allows the Christian Brothers, now in dwindling numbers, to go on.

“The brothers now have the opportunity to tell themselves and tell their alumni they have reached what we think is a fair settlement – not enough, but fair in terms of the assets,” Stang said.

Stang said he’s open to hearing from the archdiocese if it wants to now settle claims against that entity.

As for the settlement announced Thursday, the committee has approved the terms and conditions of an agreed-to reorganization plan in the Chapter 11 cases of The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. (In the United States, the Christian Brothers are the civil arms of the North American Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of Ireland).

In response to sexual abuse claims, the Christian Brothers filed Chapter 11 cases on April 28, 2011 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. During the course of the Chapter 11 cases, more than 400 survivors of sexual and physical abuse filed claims with the Bankruptcy Court. The claims generally arise from the Christian Brothers’ operation/staffing of schools and child-care facilities from 17 U.S. states and Canada.

The reorganization plan, which the parties anticipate will be filed within the next three weeks, provides for steps by the Christian Brothers which the committee said it believes will safeguard children from future abuse.

Stang said claimants will receive notices within 45-60 days and the plan will require the acceptance vote of two thirds of the clients.

Then there will be a procedure worked out to assess how the money is distributed.

St. John’s lawyer Richard Rogers, who represents seven clients among the 160 Mount Cashel claims said he learned of the proposed settlement Thursday.

“Definitely this is good news,” he said, adding it allows victims who didn’t fall in the timeframe that the provincial government compensated to obtain closure.

“It’s a very positive thing that probably would not have happened if we had gone to court.”

According to a statement from a spokesman for the Christian Brothers based in New Rochelle, N.Y., prior to filing for Chapter 11, the order had been operating at an annual seven-figure deficit, including mounting legal costs involving lawsuits, particularly in Seattle, Washington and St. John’s.

In the statement from the Christian Brothers and Christian Brothers of Ireland, Brother Kevin Griffith, deputy leader of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American Province, said that the Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings have been imperative to the healing and reconciliation process.

“Intense negotiations during the past three months have led to painful concessions in bringing about this mutually agreed upon settlement. This settlement will allow an opportunity to recommit ourselves to bringing the gospel of Jesus and the charism of our founder, blessed Edmund Rice, to those we serve. The protection of children must remain the highest of priorities in creating safe environments at our ministry sites and in our communities. Let us continue to pray for all those affected by child sexual abuse and ask the Lord for healing and reconciliation,” Griffith said.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Comments

  • Username
    Richard Kearney
    – May 25, 2013 at 11:23:56

    You dewell on sexual abuse, however physical abuse is what Boys endured for up to 10 consecutive years daily yes daily.A teacher 250 lbs wheeling a leather strap on children 40,50 ,60 lbs..Afraid to go to sleep wondering what will happen tomorrow.Who do you tell ;there is no mother or father; so I prayed to God that I wouldn’t be strapped the next day.We lived with men,(of god) who had total control and answered to no man or god.

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  • Username
    Alana
    – May 24, 2013 at 22:18:35

    what about the victims victims? how many more generations will be destroyed because of what was done here?

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  • Username
    elizabeth
    – May 24, 2013 at 15:57:02

    What about the victims of the victims? what about us!!! the abuse didn’t stop with the boys attending the orphanage.

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  • Username
    THE LIFE I LOST
    – May 24, 2013 at 15:29:14

    My dad passed away 1955, that’s when all HELL broke loose for me. I was shipped off to Mt Cashel Orphange ST Johns, NL, Me and my Nufie brothers you know who you are, God love you all, for what we endured. Is there forgiveness in your heart? I will have to pass on that for now. I ran away from that place and told the Black Mariah what was happening to me and all they did was take me back to that place of Hell. When I was returned I was beaten to the point that I had to be Hospitalized. After they came and took me back to Mt. Cashel The teachers took me to the room and for those of us who were taken to that room know what happen next. I still cry for THE LIFE I LOST

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  • Username
    saelcove
    – May 24, 2013 at 12:44:20

    Police are nothing but government robots programmed to obey there master

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    • Username

      Mary
      – May 24, 2013 at 14:47:20

      For this to go on so long,I think the blame should be placed on the government of the day, I don’t think you can blame the police in any way,they took the complaints and government did nothing about it,and don’t forget the police are paid by government.You don’t bite the hand that feeds you,I think their hands were tied. Definitely one of the darkest pages,in our history. May it never happen again.

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  • Username
    James
    – May 24, 2013 at 12:04:46

    Have to agree with Brian. And in addition it was not only the sexual abuse. As a kid attending catholic schools it the 1950’s it was a regular occurrence to get strapped, punched, kicked, head knuckled, slap it the head with a book, ruler across the knuckles, getting your eye taken out with chalk and on.

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    • Username

      Fairness
      – May 25, 2013 at 10:22:37

      All schools were like this, including the Protestant ones. All (or most) homes were like this too, except the teacher was a parent and the strap was the belt or broomstick.

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  • Username
    wayward son
    – May 24, 2013 at 11:01:31

    well… do you think the Provincial governemt will come good in any kind of way..?.. If the constabulary,RCMP or social services had listened to any of these children about the abuses they were enduring maybe it would have stopped in the 50’s… but they swept it under the rug… this includes the catholic school system in the province as well as Whitbourne school for boys… I know the provincial goverment has labelled all who complained as not being credible… criminals and mentally incapable… the goverment should be called to task for knowingly turning a blind eye… yes , knowingly.. there were complaints made.. yet they did nothing… hundres of innocent childrens lives were in their hands .. and they did nothing…till this day… they do nothing .. for if they did it would be a shameful blight on the image of the government… and they would be responsible…me personally…? I would be satisfied if they would grow some balls and admit they we negligent…it’s not about the money… it’s about being at peace…

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  • Username
    Brian
    – May 24, 2013 at 09:11:12

    You did not mention it was not only Mount Cashel. It was also schools in and around the St. John’s area. How do I know? I was one of the victims and involved in the lawsuit.

1 Response to “Co-chair of victims’ committee urges archdiocese to settle” & related article

  1. Sylvia says:

    I have included the comments which were posted on both papers’ websites at the time I copied them.

    Note Brian’s comment “You did not mention it was not only Mount Cashel. It was also schools in and around the St. John’s area. How do I know? I was one of the victims and involved in the lawsuit.”

    When I started looking at the Mount Cashel scandal more closely I began to wonder why all the talk was all “Mount Cashel” when clearly there was abuse of children by the Christian Brothers at local schools . That’s not negating the horror of the abuse at Mount Cashel, but just wondering why it became defined as “the Mount Cashel” scandal, and not, say, “the Christian Brothers in St. John’s scandal”?

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