Published on June 06, 2016
Three agreed statements of facts were submitted to the Mount Cashel civil trial Monday from 1950s-era residents who told their parish priest during confession they were sexual abused by Christian Brothers.
Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s lawyer Susan Adam Metzler speaks with Father Frank Puddister and Archbishop Martin Currie (left) at the Mount Cashel civil trial Monday. Puddister is testifying Tuesday. — Photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram
It was the 14th non-consecutive day of testimony in this trial — a John Doe lawsuit against the RC Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s seeks compensation and involves four test cases that claim the church should be held liable for the physical and sexual abuse of boys at the orphanage by certain Christian Brothers during the period late 1940s to early 1960s. The test cases represent about 60 claimants in the case being pursued by Budden and Associates.
The church contends it did not run the orphanage, therefore is not responsible for actions of the lay order Christian Brothers there.
Confession is sacred under canonical law and priests cannot breach its confidentiality.
The three statements entered Monday were all from former orphanage residents, but they are not among the test cases who have already testify. Among the statements, one man is a claimant in the larger pool of plaintiffs, another man had his case settled previously and the third man hasn’t commenced legal action, the court was told by lawyer Geoff Budden.
None of the former residents can be named.
One man’s statement – he was an orphanage resident from 1956-59 — said he had been both physically abused, as well as sexually abused by two Christian Brothers.
He said he told the St. Raphael parish priest about the sexual abuse by one Brother in confession in 1956.
St. Raphael was on the Mount Cashel property in what is now east-end St. John’s.
As the court previously heard from a canonical lawyer, a priest risks ex-communication if he divulges what was said to him in confession.
But according to the statement, the former resident, while he knew confession was confidential, understood the priest would find a way to speak to the Brother accused of the abuse. However the witness told lawyers the abuse continued until the Brother left the orphanage in 1957.
The witness said he was given penance, but there was no followup with the parish priest and he told no one else, other than referring to the orphanage as a rough place to his mother.
Another statement concerned the physical and sexual abuse reported by a man who was a resident from 1954-61. He said he told the same parish priest in confession in 1956 that he committed a sin with a Christian Brother, and was given penance. There was no follow up and he told no one else about abuse,
The same priest heard another boy’s confession about abuse in 1956 or 57. This boy – now a man – told lawyers in the agreed statement of facts that he told the priest during confession that he was sexually abused by two Brothers.
This boy was also given penance and there was no followup. Like the two statements, there was no further followup with the priest.
He said he was physically abused by a number of Brothers and sexually abused by three Brothers during his time there and sexual abuse continued until he left the orphanage in 1958.
The court also travelled back in time Monday to 1990 when the Hughes Inquiry was on, examining what failed in the Justice, police and social systems surrounding abuse of boys at the orphanage by Christian Brothers primarily in a different era – the 1970s and ’80s.
In the testimony, a priest now deceased — who also cannot be named due to a publication ban — was questioned about what happened following a visit by a employee who had been let go from the orphanage for stealing eggs.
The archbishop of the era was away in Rome at the time. As the civil trial has already heard, the employee reported that another man employed by the orphanage was abusing a boy. (It was also indicated a report was made to the RCMP at the time, but the boy denied it.)
According to the priest at Hughes, he left a report on the visit on the archbishop’s desk, but did not know what occurred afterward. He said he assumed the archbishop felt it had been handled because the employee accused of the sexual abuse was told to stay away from the orphanage.
The priest had also said that major abuses were something to be dealt with by the archbishop.
“Do you know why the civilian … came to The Palace rather than reporting to a member of the lay religious at Mount Cashel about the matter because the allegation did not in any way relate to a Christian Brother, it related to another civilian working at Mount Cashel? Do you know why he would have come to the Palace instead of spoken to the Christian Brothers about the matter?” inquiry lawyer David Day asked the priest at the Hughes Inquiry.
“I would presume that he wanted to go to the top, to the archbishop who had some authority at least over every Catholic institution, you know in the diocese,” the priest replied.
“Some authority over?” asked Day.
“But limited,” said the priest.
“To the extent that the archbishop had some authority over the papal institute the Christian Brothers, what was that authority?” David asked.
“Well, I can only say roughly because I need to study it — because I am rusty on all these things — but generally it would only be in regard to major abuses or such things like that, evident abuses the archbishop would step in, you know,” the priest replied. “Because ordinarily (the Brothers’) own superiors would handle it.”
If there was a major abuse that the Brothers couldn’t handle, they had an obligation to report it to the archbishop, the priest agreed during the questioning, but he said he was not aware of that happening.
Episcopal Corp. vicar general Father Frank Puddister is to testify Tuesday, as well as a sister of one of the men who are the test case plaintiffs.
Fear of horrific abuse is clearest Mount Cashel memory: former resident
Posted Jun 6, 2016 12:38 pm EDT
Last Updated Jun 6, 2016 at 5:29 pm EDT
by Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – There is one thing the elderly man most remembers about living at the Mount Cashel orphanage more than 60 years ago: fear.
“They had complete control over you,” he said of the Irish Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic order that ran the once-iconic institution in St. John’s, N.L. “You were beaten continually.
“They’d come to your bed at night,” said the man, now in his ’70s, who can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban.
“They’d masturbate you and lie on top of you, rub you and kiss you and all of that. I used to try and say a prayer and, you know, it didn’t work.”
He was in court Monday as a civil trial resumed in provincial Supreme Court involving about 60 claimants. They’re arguing the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s should compensate victims for alleged abuse dating back to the 1940s.
They are among former residents who came forward when Mount Cashel horrors at last became a public scandal with criminal convictions and an inquiry starting in 1989. It examined over 156 days how complaints to police and social service officials were for so long downplayed or ignored.
“I didn’t tell anybody until the Hughes Commission,” the former resident said Monday outside court. “What those kids went through, I went through.
“It would be meaningful to me that the church would finally own up to the negligence toward the responsibility that they had for the most vulnerable members of society. They just protect themselves.”
The Archdiocese of St. John’s says it was never responsible for the operations of the orphanage or school, though it sympathizes with those who suffered.
“The archdiocese remains focused on our daily work and service giving generously in the community, and promoting social justice,” it said in an emailed statement.
Lawyer Geoff Budden, representing about 60 claimants, says the archdiocese knew or ought to have known about sexual and physical abuse but didn’t stop it. The statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, says the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s had “direct authority over Mount Cashel because it was a pastoral work within the geographic territory of the corporation.”
About 20 more men represented by other law firms could be affected by a decision expected later this year or early next year.
Mount Cashel was closed in 1990 and torn down two years later.
The civil trial heard Monday that three boys separately told the same priest during confession they were being abused by Christian Brothers.
The boys lived at the orphanage in the 1950s and also can’t be named under the publication ban. Sometimes children became wards of the state because their parents had both died, other times because a single parent struggled to raise them.
The agreed statements of fact were entered Monday as part of the lawsuit.
One of them refers to physical abuse by one Christian Brother, and sexual abuse by another described as “sodomy.”
“Other than some general remarks to his mother that Mount Cashel was a rough place and that Brothers were beating the boys, he told nobody else about the abuse,” it says.
The statement also says the former resident had expected the priest — “while respecting the confidentiality of the confessional” — would speak to at least one of the Christian Brothers about what was happening.
Watching in court Monday was Gemma Hickey. She founded The Pathways Foundation in St. John’s in 2013, which offers support to survivors of religious institutional abuse.
Hickey, 39, reached a confidential agreement out of court several years ago for abuse at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest when she was young, she said in an interview.
“I think there was another way forward,” she said of the Mount Cashel lawsuit. “I encouraged the bishop … to settle.”
The lawsuit and related media coverage force survivors to re-live that pain, Hickey said.
“It triggers us, and it also re-traumatizes us as a province.”
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Mount Cashel orphanage abuse lawsuit resumes in Newfoundland
Toronto Globe and Mail
Long before the Boston scandal that inspired the award-winning movie Spotlight, men who once lived at the Mount Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland allege they endured horrific abuse ignored by church officials.
Their civil lawsuit will return to provincial Supreme Court Monday as they argue the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s should compensate them for incidents dating back to the 1940s.
“The archdiocese was negligent,” Geoff Budden, a lawyer representing about 60 claimants, said in an interview. “They knew or ought to have known that abuse was occurring and did not stop it from happening.
“The second thing we’re arguing is that by basic legal principles, they are responsible for the actions of the Christian Brothers who were really their agents in running Mount Cashel.”
About 20 more men represented by other firms could be affected by a decision expected later this year or early in 2017.
The Archdiocese of St. John’s denied Mr. Budden’s claims in an e-mailed statement.
“While the Archdiocese of St. John’s was never responsible for the operations of the orphanage or the school at Mount Cashel, we have great sympathy for those that suffered and continue to as a result,” the statement said. “The archdiocese remains focused on our daily work and service giving generously in the community, and promoting social justice.”
The claims mostly date back to the 1940s and 1950s – about 30 years before reports of other Mount Cashel abuses in the 1970s led to criminal convictions against several Irish Christian Brothers, the Roman Catholic order that opened the orphanage in 1898.
There was also a royal commission of inquiry starting in 1989 led by retired Ontario Supreme Court judge Samuel Hughes. It held hearings over 156 days on how justice and social welfare officials for years downplayed or hushed up Mount Cashel complaints.
Related publicity prompted Mr. Budden’s clients to come forward about alleged sexual attacks and beatings decades before, he said.
The Christian Brothers were not clergy but took vows of celibacy, and for much of the last century wore religious habits. They were widely respected as influential community leaders known for good works and charitable causes.
The statement of claim filed on behalf of Mr. Budden’s clients back in 1999 originally named the Christian Brothers of Ireland Inc. as co-defendants. But the North American branch filed for bankruptcy after a barrage of court cases and settlements. Their assets were ultimately liquidated and distributed two years ago – including a $16.5-million settlement shared among about 420 claimants across North America, around 150 of them in Newfoundland.
Some of his clients in the ongoing lawsuit were paid from those funds, Mr. Budden confirmed.
“Our submission is it wasn’t adequate compensation for what happened to them.”
“They were abused in the orphanage. They suffered obviously not only the trauma of that, but while … most of the clients have led productive lives, they nevertheless believe the quality of their lives has in many, many ways been diminished by what they experienced as children.”
Four representative plaintiffs – now in their 70s and identified only as John Doe under terms of a publication ban – told their stories in court during the first phase of the trial earlier this spring.
The second phase scheduled over much of this month will hear from more former residents and students. Three psychologists, a psychiatrist and an economist are also set to testify about lasting effects, Mr. Budden said.
Compensation sought has not been specified and will depend on the client, he added.
“Two people can be abused in virtually identical ways but how it plays out in their lives can be very different.”
Mount Cashel was closed in 1990 and torn down two years later.
The Mount Cashel class-action civil trial has resumed in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The trial relates to the battle between approximately 60 claimants in a class action lawsuit and the St. John’s Archdiocese (RC Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s) in which the archdiocese claims it is not liable for the physical and sexual abuse which transpired at the orphanage between the late 1940s and early 1960s. The orphanage was run by the Christian Brothers.
The allegations at the heart of this class-action lawsuit pre-date those of the 1970s. Many will recall that Mount Cashel was closed in 1990 and was torn down on the heels of the horror stories of physical and sexual abuse and cover-up endured by many boys at the facility in the 1970s. At least 14 Christian Brothers were eventually charged. I believe that with he exception of Brother Joseph Burke all
were either convicted at trial or entered a guilty plea.
(Burke was convicted, but in a bizarre twist his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court heard the case using the uncorrected reasons of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal )
What is différent today??
If a bishop confess one of his priest, finding out he is a active pédophile, what will the bishop do, in 2018??? Any différente from 1964?
Baspuits, I have been told that in some dioceses for countless years it has been the norm for bishops NOT to hear the confessions of their priests because, as I was told, “It completely ties their hands and undoes the bond of obedience through the manipulation if the sacrament. ”
I have no idea how common it is. It might be worth checking with your bishop?
The norm is describe where…….
A bishop says to another bishop ” you confess my priest and I’ll confess your priest” “and any thing about pedophilia, we use the secret of the confessional, mums the word”!
That’s how I see it, even today!
May I reminder every one we have à Law in New Brunswick: Page 145 30 (10)
Religion can’t not trump our laws on child protection,
I forgot to say last time I checked with the bishop, I was told to get a lawyer and hanged up, some ten years ago, this coming summer, by now archbishop Vienneau…….
I!m not on his dial tone, as a good friend……
I had a long reply written for you Baspuit on your first post. I just now hit a key which somehow deleted the while thing 🙁 Maybe I’ll get back to it later..
Okay, Baspuit. Here goes again. Some thoughts on confession and the Duty to Report…
You may well be right Baspuits (re bishops trading for confessions) but from what I know most priests go to another priest for confession.
That said, I don’t believe that molesters give a hoot about confession and doubt that they confess to anyone, be it bishop or priest. Do they hear confessions? Yes. Do they confess their sins at least annually? I doubt it.
As for New Brunswick law, we have much the same in Ontario. I see New Brunswick has the same exception as we do here in Ontario: “The legislation makes it clear that the reporting obligation exists whether the information was acquired through the discharge of professional duties or within a confidential relationship, except for the privilege which attaches to the relationship between solicitor and client.” That aside, Constable Perry Dunlop found out very quickly what kind of protection is provided to children when he, as a police officer, complied with Ontario’s duty to report legislation. He was the bad guy. There was opportunity to tighten things up after the Cornwall Public Inquiry. That did NOT happen.
While duty to report all sounds well and good, it’s not at all we presume and hope it to be. Unless you are dealing with a case of a predator who is currently molesting a child under the age of consent, there is essentially no duty to report. And there is a requirement to show that a specific child is at risk. Not children in general, but a specific child.
I often say that fighting child sex abuse in Canada is like dealing with a giant octopus. We have been soft on child sex abuse for decades. In the Church, and out of the Church. Tolerant. Charitable. We really are very very kind and sympathetic to our child molesters. (Sarc)
Now, back to confession and testifying.
You know that I believe that the seal of confession is inviolable. I also believe that there is nothing to gain by trying to force a priest to violate the seal of confession. A “good” priest will go to jail rather than violate the seal and be excommunicated.
What would a molester do when asked on the witness stand to violate the seal under oath? I really don’t know. It depends I suppose on whether remaining both in the Church and in the priesthood is more important to him than going to jail? Your guess is as good as mine as to what choice he would make.
I have said before and will say again that I do believe that the Code of Canon Law could be somehow amended to ensure that a priest is not burdened with information regarding a clerical molester. I believe that is the approach which must be taken. I also believe there are means to ensure that a clerical molester who is repentant can not confess child sex abuse to another priest without being held accountable. I do believe that the Code can be amended to address such situations. For the time being I do think that absolution should be withheld from a priest who does confess such acts but refuses to speak to the confessor outside the confessional when their conversation regarding the abuse is no longer covered by the seal.
I know for a fact that Michel Bastarache, put in the New protocole of the diocese of Bathurst the same law I pointed out of 1981 revised in 1983 on child protection. Now did Michel Bastarache tell them that the seal of confession does not apply in consealing child abuses, (him sitting on Supreme Court knows this very well) that they must call authoritie, as soon of hearing of such acts!
The law says when having a suspicious, and nothing more!!!
I’m tired of hearing a “good” priest will not break the seal of confession and would go to prison instead…………PLEASE let’s start putting them in jail where they belong!!!
Ask yourself this question: why did ex-priest Levi Noel send us to the confessional after abusing us? This can not be repeated in 2018?
I’m sorry to say everything is still in place of what happen to me in 1964, so as to happen again in 2018!
If there was ever a saying that has meaning is : What we allow, will contenue!!!
PS can you say punitive damages, to be continued…..
You are talking about pedophiles going to confession and will the priest help authorities……
I’m talking about a child of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 who confess what a relative or priest is doing to him or her!!!
If a priest can groom for sin, he can groom to stop the predator by helping the authorities, as the law is intended to work!!
How many times has this went on since my abuses on 1964?
Religion does not stump laws on child protection…….
If we don’t learned from our errors………..and they ( clergy ) never ask us to participate or via Bastarache route “How can we make it safer on child abuses”
Toward a new protocole we the public has never seen, that goes for Bastarache’s recommendations on such protocole???
How many time must we bow……
Yes, sorry Baspuit, I thought that’s what we were talking about.
Re children reporting abuse by anyone. That can be dealt with IF the child agrees to talk to the priest outside of confession. As you know in many instances it is highly probable that a priest will not know the identity of the child who is confessing. It is also highly possible that the child will not want any action taken and will refuse to co-operate. I don’t know how it can be done Baspuit, but I do believe that there can be amendments made to the Code of Canon Law. I also believe that children can be taught that if “Father” asks them to speak to him after confession they should do so, but, that too may be problematic, no?
Religion should never stump laws on child protection. I don’t believe it has. For countless years in Canada and elsewhere the seal of confession was recognized by the law of the land as inviolable and protected through priest-pentinent privilege, as was solicitor-client privilege. As a result of the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in the Church many states decided that priest-penitent privilege would not longer be recognized. The fact that the state decided that the Seal of Confession is not longer inviolable does not mean that the seal is no longer inviolable. It simply means the State no longer the Church law which governs Confession. In the Church the seal is thankfully still inviolable. That does not mean however that there can not be amendments made to the Code of Canon law which could somehow ensure that no child is ever left at risk because of the seal of confession. I don’t know what that might look like. I think about it often. But, I do believe the argument needs to be that Canon lawyers need to sort this out sooner than later.
any confessions egarding child sex abuse are here has be a recognition in this that Code of Canon Law will have to adapt somehow to deal with a situation which until recent years was not even thought of.
I also know ofmany victims who vehemently denied that they were being sexually abused by, for example, a priest, or by their father.
All I’m saying Baspuits is that I don’t think anything will be gained by hauling them into to court. Those who are called to testify will probably refuse to violate the seal and wind up in jail. And, yes, there are good priests, and no, not ALL priests are predators. Nor are ALL priests involved in cover-ups. I have no problem at all putting the bad apples in jail. I do have trouble when good priests are rounded up in the process. It’s not at all hard to do.
Re the law. The law is seriously wanting. As I said, Perry Dunlop reported because he rightly believed that children who were in contact with Father Charles MacDonald and probation officer Ken Seguin were at risk. He was destroyed for reporting.
There is much which needs to be changed if we truly want to protect our children. That includes publicly reporting the addresses of all know child molesters. Unfortunately we in Canada protect them – molesters have a right to privacy.
As a result of the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in the Church many states decided that priest-penitent privilege would not longer be recognized.
In Canada or in New Brunswick that privilege does not exist, this was written to me by our the minister of justice!!! Please do not say otherwise, it does not help in the matter!
I!m really wondering about it also in the states, because Louisiana has just passed a law to give the priest penitent privilege, not to long ago! To me that meant they did not recognize it before and now they do!
You have a pope who says obey all laws on child protection in the country you exercise/serve the Church! That would mean here in New Brunswick break the seal of confessional, if you have to!!!
You make it sound if the priest has never heard of ” sin of sollicitation in the confession”!
Or easy as a priest would ask the child to step outside the confessional box and repeat what you have just said!! Now we are playing with the curtains, remind me of my waiter years at the tavern……….if curtains were closed were open and if curtains are open we are closed!
You missed a question and it’s reprecaution in 2018.
Why do you think the ex-priest Levi Noel send us ALL to confession after abusing us in the first place??
More importantly why has the church brought back “individual confessional “???
So a priest can still ask “do you play with your body?” One of my freind answered Levi Noel, ” no, I play with little truck in my sand box”!
In 1995-7 in New Brunswick we removed all sign of religion in our schools, and we should do the same in our courts, no?
When will we stand up, to religion, when sharia will be implemented it will be too late!!!
Thanks for the time,
This all gets rather complicated Baspuit.
Fist, as I understand it, the Penitent Client privilege was once specific to confession but was later – unfortunately I would say – broadened to include all ‘confidences’ between a religious minister and parishioner.
(Remember the days when there was a privilege attached to husbands and wives – a husbands and wives could not testify against each other? I’m not sure when that changed, but believe it no longer exists? )
Next, check this 1986 article by an Anglican minister notes that only the provinces of Newfoundland and Quebec enjoy the privilege of priest/penitent confidentiality. (Some branches of the Anglican Church still have the personal option of confessing to a priest, but there is no inviolability of the seal attached to those confessions, nor excommunication if the seal is violated). This is a pdf file .
That was 1986.
Now look what happened in a Saskatchewan court last year when Javier De Los Angeles Cortaza, a priest accused of sexually assaulting a fellow priest, went to trial and claimed that he, the accused priest, went to the complainant for confession. A question related to this ‘confession’ was put to the complainant on the witness stand. The complainant testified he could not answer. The judge ordered him to answer. The Crown attorney asked that the proceedings be stayed.
In this instance the accused priest, who knew that his accuser would not violate the seal of confession, is back ministering in a parish. The only option available to the complainant was that of saving himself from jail by violating the seal, and in so doing be excommunicated. Excommunicated or not, he was not going to violate the seal of confession. In this case the accused priest abused the seal of confession for his own gain. Here is a link to an article I wrote about this travesty.
There was a situation here in Ontario fairly recently. I shall try to find it.
It seems the law is not cut and dry by any means. I am still and will continue hunting for something concrete which explicitly spells out what the law of the land is now regarding priest/penitent privilege. If there are variations from province to province then I would like to find that as well.
As for Levi Noel. Levi Noel is no different than Father Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar I have no idea why a twisted perverted human being like Noel would send you off to confession after abusing you. I can only guess that somehow it served his purposes.
As for removing all signs of religion from schools and standing up to religion… I fear that in your anger you go too far Baspuit.
I shall keep hunting for information on Priest/Penitent privilege in Canada. I ask others to give me a hand and do likewise – please post links to relevant article below.
Please on my behalf I had nothing to do with removing all sign of religion in school!!
It happen in the late 90s here in New Brunswick.
Am I happy YES …..let me explain I supplemented in teaching in late 70s and there was a course on relationships/light religion and at that course 10 or so Jehovah’s Witness kids would leave the room, with head bowed, for one class! I found that to be cruel, very cruel at the time and still do. Education has nothing to with religions in public school!
So today nobody leaves the class room…….
Am I guilty of being excommunicated ( can be found in canon law) for not telling what happen to me as a child, I’m trying not to be…but not many are ready for the truth, especially the key holders
….how many screams in the fog must one hear in order to yell back ” your not alone”
Looking for a good reason, as I gaze in my grand son small eyes……
Children lives mater…..
We are fighting the same battle Baspuit. The difference seems to be that I believe it is people IN the Church who are the problem, and I get the impression that you believe it is the Church itself?
I understand your concern for your grand-son. I have grandchildren too.
I would say it is in the rules and regulation of any church (for that matter) and those who holds the keys!
We could enumerate hundreds of reason of what went wrong to people in the church as you say, but top reason and has to be one, is the secrecy of the confessional, that helped to keep it a secret, and help a pedophile conquer by the hundreds innocent victims!
I’ve asked you before why did Levi Noel send us to confession after abusing us?
You said it must have served his purposes (I would say sick purposes), in sending us to another priest to confess:
Of what just happen ?
With a pedophile priest by the name of Levi Noel
Make us feel guilty for what just happen
Make us feel guilty enough to follow orders and confess! If Levi Noel can find out we did not confess…..
This would silence all priest who heard of any of 800 victims of Levi Noel
Most important it silence, everybody
Not nessessairely in the above order
Sylvia, I hear you when saying canon law has to change, in changing seal of confession, so as it does not go against or interfere with laws of the land, on child protection!
I seen this sign many year ago, town limit of then Douglastown ” progress is not obtained by content people”!
Now The church has reinstated the individual confessional, some 3 years ago!
I’m more riled up today, more then ever………..these changes should have come out in Cornwall inquiry, over 60 million dollars report!!!
We could cut the suspense if Michel Bastarache recommandation would see the light of the day………..
Sylvia mayby have a file or discussion on what to change, in order this scandal never happen, again. Get other victims in given their 2 cents on the matter???
Looking for durable changes, on may 8 it will be 10 year……