Those who may have concluded that the sex abuse scandal and cover-up at the prestigious Saint Mary’s International School in Japan has been swept under the rug never to be heard of again are sorely mistaken. Far from it. Here is the latest news. A class action lawsuit is in the works.
As you may recall, SMIS is run by the Canadian branch/province of the Brothers of Christian Brothers. The province is headquartered in LaPrairie, Quebec. Japan and the Phillipines is a Vice Province.
Before giving news of the lawsuit, a reminder that, to date, we know of sex abuse allegations against five Brothers, all of whom are/were Canadian born. Of the five, it is known that three returned to Canada. Two were definitely still alive and in Canada in recent months. Here, with brief commentary, are the five:
(1) Brother Lawrence Lambert fic(Guy Lambert);
Brother Lawrence Lambert was a known molester back in 1965. After he was reported he spent a brief hiatus back in his native land (Canada) and was then permitted to return to teach at SMIS eventually achieving the rank of Principal at Principal at St. Mary’s Elementary Elementary school, Tokyo
After a victim came forward and news of the abuse became public Lambert returned to Canada. (signed letter of apology to victim) He was alive and in Canada just months ago.
(2) Brother John Paradis fic (Brother Paul-Emile Paradis or Brother Paul Paradis);
Brother John Paradis was Principal in 1965 when “Jacob, ” a Jewish boy, was sodomised by Brother Lambert in the school chapel. Here is a mother’s account of what happened at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo after Jacob’s parents found out.
Note: “Brother John agreed Brother Lawrence would be sent to Canada and never permitted near children.” See above. Brother Paradis allowed this known predator back to SMIS and gave him unfettered access to young boys for years.
Brother John has been back in Canada since at least 2009. Just months ago he was alive and living at the Brothers of Christian Instruction facility in La Prairie, Quebec, Canada.
(3) Brother Benoit Lessard fic (Brother Daniel Lessard). Brother Lessard died in 1980;
Teja Arboleda was sexually abused by Lessard. There are numerous accounts of Lessard’s “counselling” sessions at SMIS.
(4) Brother Marcel Villemure fic (Brother Claude Villemure)
There are allegations that Brother Marcel was with Brother Lawrence Lambert in the chapel and also sexually abused “Jacob.”
I believe Brother Marcel is still in Japan, but may have returned to Canada in recent months?
(5) Brother Alban Cyr fic
There are allegations that, amongst other things, he masturbated in front of a young boy.
At some time Brother Alban returned to Canada and was living in La Prairie, Quebec. I know that he was alive in 2011, but have no more recent information.
That’s what we know of some of the Brothers. Now look at what we know of the two former SMIS lay teachers.
(1) Selas Frank Selas
Frank Selas was a fugitive from justice for years. Selas was finally arrested in San Diego in January of this year. He is facing charges related to allegations of sex abuse of young boys which post-date his time at SMIS
(2) Andrews Donald Andrews
convicted in 1997 for sex abuse of young boys which post-date his time at SMIS.
Finally, as you may also recall, over a year ago, and I do believe only in response to negative publicity and mounting pressure, SMIS set up a supposedly “independent’ inquiry . Whatever investigating has been done to date has been done behind closed doors. There has been nary a whimper nor word on the progress or outcome of said “inquiry.” Silence!!
And, yes, if you are wondering, unfortunately because of Statues of limitations in Japan criminal charges could not and therefore have not been laid.
That’s where things stood until now….
And now, now a class action lawsuit is in the offing. Hats off to Teja Arboleda for getting this going, and to St. Mary’s International School Labour Dispute for making it public.
The following, with external links embedded, is posted on the St. Mary’s International School Labor Dispute site.
It’s time to lawyer up, St. Mary’s! And the Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. (Parents, if you see tuition go up next year–you’ll know why now).
If you haven’t seen the 2016 Best Motion Picture Academy Award Winner Spotlight, you should. (Now on Netflix!)
It is a story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive, systemic cover-up, by the local Catholic Archdiocese, of children being molested by priests. This initial case was how the world woke up to the inhuman system of an ‘untouchable institution’ that cannibalized children’s souls because people were too afraid to challenge it. It was the work of Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian that subpoaened the Archdiocese’s records showing that it knew one priest was harming over 130 children, and kept re-assigning him to new parishes to cover up the stories. (Sound familiar, St. Mary’s? Sending confessed rapist Brother Lawrence Lambert to a Japanese school in Shizuoka—all under the watch of the Archdiocese of Tokyo!). The case was a watershed moment that exposed the same rampant system of cover-up in dioceses across the US and the world. Thousands of victims have filed civil lawsuits based on the precedent of Mr. Garabedian’s initial class-action suit of 86 plaintiffs. He has been doing these cases for over 20 years in many countries around the world.
Mr. Garabedian is the legal counsel the alumni of St. Mary’s will be engaging. The jig may be up for the evil still doing business in Tokyo.
In mid-2015, the Tokyo community of international school families witnessed the intrepid journey of the 13 women survivors of sexual abuse at ASIJ holding their international school accountable, through petitioning with 1800 signatures, hiring their own lawyers and forcing an acknowledgment and apology from the notoriously absconding ASIJ Board.
In the June 15th, 2015 Final Report issued by the legal team of Crew Janci LLP (Portland, Oregon) representing the 13 survivors, an acknowledgment by ASIJ’s Board of Directors of crucial points that had been denied for 40 years was published. It also summed up the final result of the case:
…on June 5, 2015, the school’s newly appointed Board of Directors released a public apology, stating that “Jack Moyer’s abuse of students was extensive, and there were Heads of School, high-level administrators as well as teachers who were aware of information concerning abuse by Moyer.” The Board’s apology was issued as part of a unique resolution and reconciliation achieved by the victims and the American School in Japan, which included reimbursement for counseling costs, compensation for the survivors’ injuries, new and improved child safety policies, and full acceptance of responsibility for the actions of “teachers and administrators…[who] failed to protect students in their charge.”
A summary of the report can be read here.
St. Mary’s admin, in comparison, have lied about ever reporting the criminal and crime to the police, or seriously investigating anything. (For those of you new to the stories–the ASIJ scandal and the St. Mary’s scandal broke to the wider community at about the same time–early 2014). So, now, what about the boys of St. Mary’s?
Fathers, friends, leaders of society, and broken men living today were once students at St. Mary’s who were raped and molested by the Brothers and Staff. Months, and now years, have passed since the story broke and it is evident that the school and the archdiocese have taken ZERO measures to account for children harmed in their care and jurisdiction. The admin hope that in silence, it will be business as usual.
In St. Mary’s case(s), one of the worst perpetrators is still alive (a confessed rapist of children), and was even living on campus when the story broke—30 years after his first(?) early(?) raping days. Can the school corporation honestly say that they knew NOTHING all these years? Is that even possible when two brothers were present at the rape? When dozens of more boys’ lives were scarred in a system of depraved ‘summer camps’ and ‘office visits’, again, with multiple staff in attendance?
The only way to determine the extent of systemic abuse is to stitch together the massive array of narratives from the survivors of abuse at St. Mary’s International School. Many of the survivors are still alive.
The men will sue.
Here are some details about joining the class action lawsuit as we at the blog know it:
- it will be at NO legal cost to the individuals (i.e. $0); Mr. Garabedian only takes a percentage at the end IF there is a financial settlement
- anonymity throughout the whole case is the individual’s choice and will be honoured
- survivors can live anywhere in the world
- Teja Arboleda, a St. Mary’s Alumnus and survivor, has volunteered to be the lead and public plaintiff
Survivors looking for closure, with a band of brothers can contact Mr. Garabedian: http://www.garabedianlaw.com/contact-us
and / or
contact Teja Arboleda (Class of 1981): firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s right: to all those who wish to sweep this under the rug and carry on as usual: this cottage industry of boys in Tokyo being sexually abused by a cloaked institution is going to go out of business.
May you not sleep until it is over.
FYI: Pope Francis has set up a tribunal to clean house of all the Bishops into covering up evil against children.
(Teja was shown as “Class of 1989.” I checked. It should be 1981. I have corrected)
I strongly encourage those of you who were molested at SMIS, or who witnessed and/or have information regarding abuse at the school, to contact one of the above. Because of the statute of limitations truth and justice can not be pursued in criminal court. This class action suit therefore is an opportunity to finally shed some light on SMIS’ dark secrets. It is occasion to expose the magnitude of the abuse, and, yes, the magnitude of the cover-up. More than that, it is an opportunity for those of you who endured abuse at the school to start to rid yourselves of that terrible burden of silence and shame which you have been carrying for all these years. I know it is hard, but perhaps now is the time to speak up, time to finally put the shame where it rightly belongs – right on the backs of the molesters, and on the backs of their their enablers. Your voices need to be heard.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Enough for now,