Burke: Joseph Burke

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Joseph Burke

former Christian Brother. Teacher.

Cleared by Supreme Court of Canada of convictions of indecent assault of three boys Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s Newfoundland – Convicted of one count of assault causing bodily harm.

In 1982 taught at St. More Collegiate as a Christian Brother – left the Christian Brothers in 1982.  Then on staff as layman at Vancouver College – Vice Principal at the school when he faced the Mount Cashel charges .   In January 2013 Joseph Burke disciplined a Grade 8 class at Vancouver College in a manner later determined to be professional misconduct

Pictured above,  Brother Joseph Burke, football coach at St. Thomas More Collegiate, Burnaby, BC, 1982 (Burke left the Christian Brothers in 1982)  (Click to enlarge)

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17 September 2013:    Former Christian Brother Joseph Burke –  suspension of British Columbia teaching license for “non payment of fees”

21 March 1996: R v Burke 1996 (Supreme Court of Canada)

1994:   R v Burke 1994 (Supreme Court of Newfoundland – Court of Appeal)

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The following information is drawn from media reports (M), personal information (P)  and legal documents (L)

May 1996: Supreme Court of Canada refused to reconsider its earlier decision (M)

21 March 1996: Convictions of indecent assault overturned by Supreme Court of Canada – count of assault causing bodily harm upheld (L) In so ruling Justice Sopinka of the Supreme Court wrote that a witness/”alleged” victim “D.C.” had been “serving a sentence for armed robbery” at the time he testified at the original trial and referred to “the uncorroborated evidence of a chronic and convicted thief.”  This was an error which was corrected by the Newfoundland Court of Appeal in its Reasons for Judgment and was brought to the attention of Burke’s lawyer.  The correction was not, however, brought to the attention of the Supreme Court of Canada.  The Supreme Court heard the case using the uncorrected reasons of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal.  The Supreme Court decided that an appropriate correction would be made by deleting reference to the conviction for robbery.

March 1994:  convictions upheld by Newfoundland Court of Appeal

1991:  CONVICTED – sentenced to 25 months (never imprisoned because of appeals)

17 April 1989:  charged.  Vice Principal of Vancouver College Catholic school when he was charged. (M)

1982:  On staff at St. Thomas More Collegiate, Burnaby, BC – football coach (P)

left the Christian Brothers (L) and stopped teaching at STM in 1982 (P)

1981:  Left St. John’s, Newfoundland. (L)

August 1978-1981:  Mount Cashel (M)

in charge of St. Pius Dormitory at Mount Cashel – taught at St. Bonaventure’s Grammar School in St. John’s, Newfoundland (L)

1976-1978: left Mount Cashel to teach elsewhere (M)

Sept. 1974- June 1976:  Mount Cashel

in charge of St. Aloysius Dormitory at Mount Cashel – taught at Brother Rice High School

– graduated from Guelph University (L)

– joined the Christian Brothers (L)

– attended Simon Fraser University for two years (L)

1954 approx: moved to Vancouver, BC (L)

DOB: 17 July 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland

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Top court won’t hear Mount Cashel appeal

The Edmonton Journal

24 May 1996

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to reconsider its earlier decision in an abuse case at the Mount Cashel orphanage.

In March, the high court cleared a former Christian Brother at the notorious St. John’s, Nfld., orphanage of indecent assault. After the ruling, Joseph Burke stood convicted of one count of assault causing bodily harm for beating one boy.

Prosecutors asked for the reconsideration, which was denied by the Supreme Court on Thursday. The court, as usual, gave no reasons for its ruling.

Burke was sentenced to 30 days in prison for the assault charge. He’s appealing that in Newfoundland next month.

The March ruling caused a stir because of blunt wording that openly questioned evidence from three victims.

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A correction from the Supreme Court of Canada VERBATIM / The witness was not convicted of armed robbery.

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Tuesday, 26 March 1996

On this page yesterday, we ran part of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada concerning Joseph Burke, a former Christian Brother at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland. In it, Mr. Justice John Sopinka wrote that a witness identified only as D.C. had been “serving a sentence for armed robbery” at the time he testified at Mr. Burke’s original trial. Judge Sopinka further referred to “the uncorroborated evidence of a chronic and convicted thief.”

On Friday, the Registrar of the Supreme Court issued the following correction: SINCE release of the reasons for judgment herein, the Court has been advised by Crown counsel that a reference in both the majority reasons of Chief Justice Goodridge and the dissenting reasons of Gushue J.A. in the Newfoundland Court of Appeal was in error. The error related to a conviction for armed robbery of (D.C.), a complainant and witness.

Although the error was corrected in the reasons of the Court of Appeal and was brought to the attention of counsel for the appellant by Crown counsel, the corrected version was not brought to the attention of this Court. The appeal was heard on the basis of the uncorrected reasons which were certified as the reasons of the Court of Appeal. The reasons of this Court refer to the conviction for armed robbery.

In the circumstances, an appropriate correction to the reasons of the (Supreme) Court (of Canada) will be made deleting reference to the conviction for armed robbery.

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A Mount Cashel reversal: ‘inconsistencies and falsehoods’ VERBATIM / The Supreme Court of Canada says convincing a former Christian Brother of indecent assault at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage was unreasonable on the evidence.

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Monday, 25 March 1996

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada threw out three convictions of indecent assault against Joseph Burke, a former Christian Brother at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s. The court left standing Mr. Burke’s conviction on one count of assault causing bodily harm, for beating a boy at the orphanage. Here is an excerpt from the decision, written by Mr. Justice John Sopinka: I HAVE concluded that this is one of those rare instances where the trial court’s assessment of credibility cannot be supported on any reasonable view of the evidence. . . .

S.E. (one of the alleged victims) was one of the first Mount Cashel residents to make allegations of improper conduct concerning the Christian Brothers. In 1975, E. went to the police and described the brutal treatment that had been suffered by the residents of Mount Cashel. . . .

According to Mr. E., Joseph Burke had beaten him with such force that E. had required hospitalization. In addition, E. alleged that Burke had committed several indecent sexual acts. The details of these sexual activities appeared to become more scandalous and shocking each time that E. retold his story. E.’s allegations, coupled with allegations made by other Mount Cashel residents, eventually led the police to investigate activities at the orphanage. The investigation was short-lived, however, and resulted only in the transfer of two of the Christian Brothers out of the orphanage.

In 1989, 14 years after the first investigation had closed, E. came forward with startling new revelations concerning the apparently brutal treatment he had received at the hands of the Christian Brothers. As a result of E.’s claims, the investigation was eventually reopened and E. was called to testify before a commission of inquiry (the Hughes Commission). During the course of this inquiry, it became apparent that at least some of E.’s claims regarding the Christian Brothers, particularly those concerning Mr. Burke, were gross exaggerations to say the least. Indeed, at least some of the allegations made by E. were eventually proved to have been completely false.

Prior to his appearance before the commission of inquiry, E. appeared on the widely viewed Oprah Winfrey television program. While being interviewed on that program, E. gave detailed descriptions of the forms of abuse that he had suffered at the hands of the Christian Brothers. Perhaps the most shocking of these allegations was E.’s claim that the Christian Brothers had repeatedly engaged in sexual intercourse with the children who were entrusted in their care. Needless to say, the public outrage resulting from E.’s claim was overwhelming.

When E. finally appeared before the commission of inquiry, it became clear that his claims of sexual intercourse between the orphans and Christian Brothers were untrue. E. eventually admitted that the events he had described on Oprah Winfrey had simply never occurred. In explaining why he had invented the allegations in question, E. claimed to have been “tired” at the time the interview was conducted. . . .

E. graphically described several other instances of abuse at the hands of Joseph Burke. At trial, E. claimed that Mr. Burke would come to his bunk every night except for Saturday, make the sign of the cross and fondle E. all over his body. E. subsequently altered his allegation, and stated that these instances of “fondling” occurred less frequently than he had initially claimed. However, subsequent evidence given at trial, including the testimony of E.’s brother W.E., made it clear that the episodes in question could not have occurred at all, as E.’s bed was in plain view of many other children in the dorm, none of whom claimed to have witnessed the “nightly” fondling. Indeed, residents of Mr. E.’s dormitory came forward and testified at trial that such instances of abuse had never happened, as they would have been readily observed by the many children whose beds were in close proximity to E.’s.

Another shocking claim made by E. concerned instances of sexual intercourse between the children at Mount Cashel. According to Mr. E., during the time he spent at the orphanage he occasionally engaged in sexual intercourse with other children. In addition, E. claimed that at least one of the episodes in question had been observed by Christian Brothers who made no effort to prevent this kind of behaviour.

Like almost all of E.’s testimony, this evidence was later contradicted by the unchallenged evidence of other witnesses. For example, the other children with whom E. claimed to have had intercourse denied that the incidents in question had ever occurred. In addition, one of the Christian Brothers whom E. had “clearly remembered” as having observed a particular instance of sexual contact between the children clearly established that he was nowhere near Mount Cashel at the time of the incident in question. . .

The final instance of abuse alleged by Mr. E. involved an occasion when the appellant was required to apply an ointment to E.’s legs in order to stave off a chicken-pox infection. . . . According to Mr. E., Burke applied the “chicken-pox ointment” not only to E.’s legs, but also to his penis and his buttocks. As noted above, the chicken-pox infection only affected E.’s legs, so there would seem to be no reason to apply the ointment elsewhere on his body. . . . Not surprisingly, these allegations were vehemently denied by Mr. Burke.

As noted above, Mr. Burke applied the ointment to Mr. E. in a private office within the orphanage. As a result, unlike the other instances of abuse alleged by E., the “chicken-pox” incident could not be disproved by observations made by other Mount Cashel residents.

Whatever one may claim about S.E., it is clear that he has a vivid imagination. When faced with the many inconsistencies and blatant falsehoods in E.’s evidence, the trial judge rightly concluded that E. was not a credible witness. According to the trial judge, the many lies and exaggerations in E.’s evidence caused her to “wonder where the core of truth is and where the exaggeration begins.” In my opinion, the trial judge should have considered an even more fundamental question: namely, whether or not there was any core of truth to E.’s claims.

As a result of her doubts concerning E.’s veracity, the trial judge came to the sensible conclusion that E.’s claims could not be accepted without some form of corroboration. While most of E.’s claims were either positively disproved or unsupported by the evidence, the trial judge found corroboration for the “chicken-pox incident” described by Mr. E. The corroboration in question came from Mr. D.C., another former resident of Mount Cashel. The supposedly corroborative evidence of D.C. is analyzed below. . . .

(D.C.) was the one Mount Cashel resident who was not afflicted with chicken pox at the time that S.E. was suffering from the disease. However, C. testified at Mr. Burke’s trial that he was suffering from some form of skin disorder which also required the application of ointment to his legs. Like Mr. E., C. testified that Joseph Burke had applied the ointment not only to his legs, but also to his penis and buttocks which were not affected by the disorder. . . .

According to the trial judge, C.’s account of Burke’s application of ointment to his penis, buttocks and rectum was sufficiently similar to the claims of Mr. E. to constitute valid corroboration of E.’s earlier testimony. As a result, the trial judge accepted the accounts of the “ointment incidents” given by C. and E., and accordingly convicted the accused of indecent assault in relation to those individuals.

At first glance, the evidence of Mr. C. does appear to be “strikingly similar” to, and accordingly corroborative of, the account of the “chicken pox” incident given by E. However, the more closely one examines the evidence given by Mr. C., as well as the character of D.C. himself, the less “corroborative” his evidence seems to be.

As noted above, D.C. was ejected from Mount Cashel for dishonesty and theft. . . . While the trial judge explicitly stated that she was aware of C.’s past dishonesty, she appears to have been unaware that his problems have continued into the present. Indeed, at the time that Mr. C. testified at the appellant’s trial, C. was serving a sentence for armed robbery.

Obviously, the fact that Mr. C. has had trouble remaining honest does not necessarily mean that his testimony at trial was untrue. However, critical inconsistencies in his testimony further erode the “corroborative value” of his evidence. . . . While C. never departed from his statement that he recalled that he was 6 or 7 (at the time of the “ointment incident”) . . . he ventured the opinion that he was 9 or 10 after apparently having been told that Burke was not in Newfoundland at the (earlier) time. . . .

In my view, the obvious inconsistencies and falsehoods in the testimony of C. render the trial judge’s finding of credibility unreasonable. I simply cannot accept that any trier of fact, acting judicially, could have found any merit in the claims of either C. or E. Moreover, given the frailties in the evidence of these two witnesses and the strong possibility of collusion, reliance by the trial judge on the evidence of C. to corroborate E.’s testimony was unreasonable. . . . On the basis of (an) exceedingly generous assessment of the uncorroborated evidence of a chronic and convicted thief, the trial judge convicted the appellant of indecent assault on E. and on C. . . .

The appellant (Joseph Burke) testified and denied that the alleged sexual assaults took place. The appellant was not cross-examined on his denials of the allegations. As well, he called impressive character evidence from former students and residents of Mount Cashel, including supportive character evidence from S.E.’s brother, W.E. This evidence was summarily dismissed. The trial judge’s sole reference to this evidence was as follows: “As must be clear, I have generally rejected the denial of Joseph Burke. He is an intelligent man who, for some children, had been an important teacher, guide and role model. They will, no doubt, be shocked that I can reject the evidence of such a person, or that it has not raised a reasonable doubt in my mind. The simple fact is that citizens who for years may live exemplary lives may commit crimes, even the types of crimes alleged in this case.”

A correction from the Supreme Court of Canada VERBATIM / The witness was not convicted of armed robbery.

On this page yesterday, we ran part of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada concerning Joseph Burke, a former Christian Brother at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland. In it, Mr. Justice John Sopinka wrote that a witness identified only as D.C. had been “serving a sentence for armed robbery” at the time he testified at Mr. Burke’s original trial. Judge Sopinka further referred to “the uncorroborated evidence of a chronic and convicted thief.”

On Friday, the Registrar of the Supreme Court issued the following correction: SINCE release of the reasons for judgment herein, the Court has been advised by Crown counsel that a reference in both the majority reasons of Chief Justice Goodridge and the dissenting reasons of Gushue J.A. in the Newfoundland Court of Appeal was in error. The error related to a conviction for armed robbery of (D.C.), a complainant and witness.

Although the error was corrected in the reasons of the Court of Appeal and was brought to the attention of counsel for the appellant by Crown counsel, the corrected version was not brought to the attention of this Court. The appeal was heard on the basis of the uncorrected reasons which were certified as the reasons of the Court of Appeal. The reasons of this Court refer to the conviction for armed robbery.

In the circumstances, an appropriate correction to the reasons of the (Supreme) Court (of Canada) will be made deleting reference to the conviction for armed robbery. March 26, 1996 Page A17

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Brother bitter over lost 7 years

The Edmonton Journal

24 March 1996

Financial help from 200 supporters helped Joseph Burke fight for seven years to see Canada’s highest court clear him of indecently assaulting three boys at Mount Cashel orphanage.

But the former vice-principal of Vancouver College Roman Catholic school says other Christian brothers convicted of sexually abusing boys at the infamous Newfoundland facility probably won’t get the same chance.

Burke said he feels angry, tired and an overwhelming sense of having lost seven years of his life.

There is no doubt some of the eight brothers charged with physically and sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel were guilty, he said.

But he is equally convinced some boys lied in court in hopes of receiving financial compensation.

Burke, who was cleared Thursday by the Supreme Court of Canada, was arrested in 1989 for incidents that occurred in the 1970s at Mount Cashel.

Burke, 47, is no longer a Christian brother. Struggling financially since leaving Vancouver College, he has been privately tutoring students and trying not to withdraw into himself.

“I’m not a bad guy. I can’t believe this happened to me.”

Supreme Court Justice John Sopinka called some of his accusers’ testimony dishonest and vividly imaginative.

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7-year fight to clear name takes heavy toll: Christian brother vindicated of Mount Cashel sex charges fears others may not be so lucky.: Grateful to his supporters

The Vancouver Sun

23 March 1996

Douglas Todd

INTERVIEW WITH Joseph Burke

Since he was fortunate to have more than 200 supporters contribute to his legal defence fund, Joseph Burke was able to fight for seven years to see Canada’s highest court clear him of indecently assaulting three boys at Mount Cashel orphanage.

But the former vice-principal of Vancouver College Catholic school says other Christian brothers convicted of sexually abusing boys at the infamous Newfoundland facility probably won’t get the same chance to sort out legal truth from fiction.

Feeling angry, tired and an overwhelming sense of having lost seven years of his life after hearing Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, Burke said Friday from his east Vancouver home there’s no doubt some of the eight brothers charged with physically and sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel were guilty.

But Burke is equally convinced that some of the boys from Mount Cashel — whose complaints sparked the first of many large sexual-assault investigations against Canadian Catholic and Protestant clergy — lied in court in hopes of receiving financial compensation.

Vancouver-raised Burke, who was arrested in 1989 for incidents that occurred in the 1970s at Mount Cashel, said he will have to deal with the fact the Supreme Court did not clear him of physically assaulting Mount Cashel resident Shane Earle by hitting his bottom five times, leaving bruises.

“I hit him too hard. Something went wrong. I was 26. He had thrown a piece of wood and hit someone on the neck and lied to me that he didn’t do it. I had made it clear that lying was a big deal. And I believed then in the efficacy of corporal punishment,” said Burke, who is no longer a member of the Christian brothers.

Burke, 47, definitely doesn’t believe in corporal punishment now. Nor does he believe in the kind of punishment meted out in Canada’s penal system, where he spent a total of about 15 days while awaiting repeated appeals to increasingly higher courts.

“I understand a hell of a lot more about punishment now. I’ve studied it throughout the United States before I helped set up Vancouver College’s middle school. And I saw men leading meaningless lives in prison. I was morally outraged. Punishment in general is not particularly efficacious.”

Struggling financially since leaving Vancouver College, where he was vice-principal and football coach, Burke has been privately tutoring students in math and English and trying to avoid withdrawing into himself.

“I’m not a bad guy. I can’t believe this happened to me. But under no circumstances am I going to adopt a victim position,” he said. He doesn’t plan to seek financial compensation or charge the three male complainants from Mount Cashel, some of whom Supreme Court Justice John Sopinka called dishonest and vividly imaginative.

In the past seven years, Burke has been attending several churches (St. Joseph’s the Worker in Richmond and St. Anthony’s and Holy Rosary in Vancouver), reading novels voraciously and, as his personal computer calculates, played 50,000 games of solitaire. He has no firm plans for the future.

“This really ground me down. I’ve actually retreated from a lot of relationships. I am a passionate, committed person who was forced to become a spectator rather than a participant. It’s been very hurtful. I’ve beat myself up a lot over the years. For a while, I was kind of angry at God. I’d wonder, `Why are you doing this to me?”’

He is grateful to the church groups that kept praying for him, his circle of friends and supporters, his “extraordinary” mother, who lives in Richmond, and his two lawyers, Marvin Storrow and Joanne Lysk, whom he doesn’t believe fully billed him for their expenses.

And the pain isn’t entirely over, he said, because he still awaits sentencing for the physical assault of Earle. But, since he’s already lost considerable income, served time in jail and made 245 weekly bail appearances at Vancouver RCMP headquarters, he said, “Maybe I’ve already paid for it.”

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Cashel conviction overturned

The Edmonton Journal

22 March 2012

Joseph Burke considers himself lucky Canada’s highest court cleared him Thursday of indecent assault convictions, but says other men caught up in the Mount Cashel case haven’t been so fortunate.

The former Christian Brother at Newfoundland’s infamous Mount Cashel orphanage said he has no doubt some other members of the Roman Catholic lay order abused boys.

“I am equally convinced a number of people who have made accusations are liars,” Burke said from Vancouver, hours after a blunt Supreme Court of Canada ruling ended a seven-year legal nightmare.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court cleared him of three indecent assault convictions in a ruling that questioned evidence from three victims.

Justice John Sopinka wrote that one boy who testified against Burke “has a vivid imagination” and questioned “whether or not there was any core of truth” to his claims.

Burke now stands convicted only on one count of assault causing bodily harm for beating one of the boys.

The orphanage has become a Canadian horror story, known for beatings and sex abuse that occurred in the 1970s.

Charges were laid in 1989 against nine Christian Brothers. All — including Burke — were convicted of a mix of charges of sexual and physical abuse.

Burke was arrested in April 1989 and convicted in 1991. He was sentenced to 25 months, but never imprisoned because of appeals.

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Mt. Cashel conviction partly overturned

The Kingston Whig-Standard

22 March 1996

The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared a former Christian Brother at the Mount Cashel orphanage of indecent assault in a blunt ruling that questions evidence from three victims.

Joseph Burke now stands convicted only on one count of assault causing bodily harm for beating one of the boys. Three indecent assault convictions were thrown out.

“He seems happy with the result,” lawyer Marvin Storrow said yesterday from Vancouver after speaking with Burke, who now lives in the west-coast city.

But the lawyer said Burke is “not happy with the fact that he had to suffer through six or seven years of fighting this matter.”

The St. John’s orphanage, now demolished, became known across Canada for beatings and sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s at the hands of the brothers, members of a Roman Catholic lay order who ran the institution.

Mount Cashel’s horrors rocked Newfoundland, which has a significant Catholic community. The tales of abuse bubbled for 15 years before authorities acted. Burke was arrested in April 1989 on charges involving alleged incidents between 1974 and 1981. He was convicted in 1991.

He was sentenced to 25 months, but never imprisoned because of appeals.

In a blistering ruling released yesterday, Justice John Sopinka wrote one boy who testified against Burke “has a vivid imagination” and questioned “whether or not there was any core of truth” to his claims.

He cited the “chronic dishonesty” of a second witness as he questioned whether that boy’s evidence was credible.

As for the third witness, Sopinka said some of his testimony caused “great concern.”

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Cashel Brother wins appeal: The Supreme Court of Canada overturns three indecent assault convictions against ex-staffer at notorious St. John’s orphanage

The Vancouver Sun

22 March 1996

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared a former Christian Brother at the Mount Cashel orphanage of indecent assault in a ruling that questions evidence from three victims.

Joseph Burke, who was vice-principal of Vancouver College when he was arrested in 1989, now stands convicted of only one count of assault causing bodily harm for beating one of the boys. Three indecent assault convictions were thrown out.

“He seems happy with the result,” lawyer Marvin Storrow said Thursday after speaking with Burke, who now lives in Vancouver.

But the lawyer said Burke is “not happy with the fact that he had to suffer through six or seven years of fighting this matter.”

The St. John’s, Nfld. orphanage, now demolished, became known across Canada for beatings and sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s at the hands of the brothers, members of a Roman Catholic lay order who ran the institution.

Mount Cashel’s horrors rocked Newfoundland, which has a significant Catholic community. The tales of abuse bubbled for 15 years before authorities acted.

Burke was arrested in April 1989 on charges involving alleged incidents between 1974 and 1981. He was convicted in 1991.

He was sentenced to 25 months, but never imprisoned because of appeals.

In a blistering ruling released Thursday, Justice John Sopinka wrote that one boy who testified against Burke “has a vivid imagination” and questioned “whether or not there was any core of truth” to his claims.

He cited the “chronic dishonesty” of a second witness as he questioned whether that boy’s evidence was credible.

“If there were ever a witness upon whose evidence it is unsafe to rely as the basis for a conviction, {this boy} must be that witness.”

To conclude, Sopinka wrote: “I simply cannot accept that any trier of fact, acting judicially, could have found any merit in the claims of either {witness}.”

Sopinka said the testimony of a third witness caused “great concern.”

None of the boys can be named. The presiding judge at Burke’s trial imposed a ban on identifying them.

Charges were laid in 1989 against nine Christian Brothers. All were convicted of a mix of charges of sexual and physical abuse against boys during the 1970s.

Even as Burke’s lawyers cheered the ruling, they doubted it would impact on convictions against others implicated in abuse at the infamous orphanage.

“Just because {the witnesses} weren’t reliable in Burke’s case, doesn’t make them unreliable in other cases,” Storrow said.

“Each case has got to be judged on its own merits.”

In St. John’s, another of Burke’s lawyers agreed.

“My own guess is these people were telling the truth when they made complaints about other people,” said Brian Casey.

Other men were given longer sentences. And there was more sexual content to some of the other allegations against other men.

Even at his trial, character witnesses noted Burke was a no-nonsense taskmaster quick to spank to keep an errant boy in line.

But they insisted he was no sadist or pedophile. One man told the court how he entered Mount Cashel as a juvenile delinquent, but left more disciplined.

Burke left the Catholic lay order in 1982 and moved to B.C.

He is one of six Christian Brothers later convicted of crimes at the Newfoundland orphanage who were sent to teach at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby. Burke has been free on $20,000 bail.

A series of civil suits have been launched by victims of abuse at Mount Cashel. Shane Earle accepted the first settlement from the Christian Brothers and Newfoundland government last fall.

Lawyer Jack Harris, who is handling more than 30 other cases, said he did not think the Supreme Court’s criticism of witnesses would affect those cases.

“There are different issues,” he said….

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Ex-Mt. Cashel brother loses appeal on sexual assaults

The Vancouver Sun

19 March 1994

Douglas Todd

The Newfoundland Court of Appeal has upheld sexual assault convictions against Joseph Burke, a former brother at Mount Cashel orphanage who became vice-principal of Vancouver College.

But Burke — who claims he didn’t get a fair trial because of the torrent of publicity surrounding the Mount Cashel scandal — will now try to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, said one of his lawyers, Marvin Storrow.

“(Burke) is unique,” Storrow said Friday. “His is not a typical Mount Cashel case at all. The evidence against many other of the brothers at Mount Cashel was much, much different. Burke is still immensely popular.”

Burke is the only Christian brother convicted of crimes at Mount Cashel who has not served time in prison.

Although Burke was first found guilty in July 1991 of molesting and beating Mount Cashel orphans, his two lawyers have kept him out of jail by filing appeals.

He lives in south Vancouver on $20,000 bail.

In a two-one decision Monday, the Newfoundland Court of Appeal upheld three counts of sexual assault and one of physical assault against Burke, all of which relate to incidents that occurred more than a decade ago.

During Burke’s trial, Vancouver College supporters and some former residents of Mount Cashel painted the burly redhead as a caring, intelligent man who was a strict disciplinarian but showed no signs of perversion.

Asked who was paying Burke’s legal costs — which Newfoundland prosecutor Wayne Gorman said had to be “very, very expensive” — Storrow at first said it was not the public’s business.

But, later in the interview, he said Burke has “had the support of hundreds of people who have assisted him financially. He’s made a great contribution to the lives of many young people. This is a sad case.”

Another ex-teacher teacher at Vancouver College, former Mount Cashel supervisor Douglas Kenny, is serving a five-year sentence for assaulting boys while he was at the orphanage.

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Sex abuse conviction appeal to be heard

The Vancouver Sun

07 October 1993

Douglas Todd

A Vancouver resident who is the only Christian Brother convicted of sex crimes at Mount Cashel orphanage who has yet to serve jail time is finally going to learn his fate.

Newfoundland courts have set a date of Dec. 13 to hear the appeal of Joseph Burke, the former vice-principal of prestigious Vancouver College, who was sentenced to prison 27 months ago after being found guilty of molesting and beating Mount Cashel orphans

“This thing has dragged on for a long, long time,” Newfoundland Crown prosecutor Wayne Gorman said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Burke, 44, has been living in south Vancouver since he was released on $20,000 bail.

If Burke had started his 25-month sentence when a Newfoundland judge first handed it down in July, 1991, he would have completed his entire jail term by now.

Part of the reason for the delay in wrapping up Burke’s case, said Gorman, is that Burke’s lawyer did not file his written appeal arguments until this summer.

Burke admits he used severe corporal punishment, but says he never molested anyone during his years at Mount Cashel, the scene of one of Canada’s most notorious sex scandals.

Burke is one of six Christian Brothers later convicted of molesting boys at the Newfoundland orphanage who were sent to teach at two noted B.C. Catholic boys’ schools: Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby.

Some of the brothers were moved to B.C. after the Catholic order suppressed a damning report about molestation at Mount Cashel and made a secret 1976 deal with Newfoundland justice officials, says the book, Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel, by Michael Harris.

When he was arrested, Burke, a burly red-head who is no longer a member of the Catholic order, was a respected vice-principal at Vancouver College.

During Burke’s trial, Vancouver friends, doctors and some former residents of Mount Cashel painted him as a caring, intelligent man who was a strict disciplinarian, but who showed no signs of perversion.

Nevertheless, after hearing four victims give detailed testimony about Burke fondling and beating them during the 1970s, Newfoundland Justice Margaret Cameron found Burke guilty.

The December appeal that Burke’s lawyer is preparing is the third time Burke has tried to have his case thrown out.

According to the written arguments of Vancouver lawyer Marvin Storrow, Burke should go free because he has been a victim of unfair court procedure.

The case against Burke should not have been re-opened in 1989, Storrow argues, after the 1975 police investigation led to no charges.

The Vancouver lawyer also claims Burke suffered from extensive pre-trial publicity that made a fair trial impossible.

Another former teacher at Vancouver College (Mount Cashel supervisor Douglas Kenny) is serving a five-year sentence for assaulting boys at the orphanage.

Brother Kevin Short, who was principal of St. Thomas More Collegiate when arrested, is serving four years for abusing boys at the orphanage. He also drew three months for an assault in Burnaby.

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Christian brother `like a father’; Scandal-plagued Mt. Cashel getting bad rap, ex-resident says

The Edmonton Journal

The Canadian Press

01 September 1991

St. John’s, Nfld.

A former resident of the Mount Cashel Orphanage disputes the notion that the scandal-plagued facility produced only emotionally scarred victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Ron Linegar, a resident at the orphanage in the late 1970s, said he was a juvenile delinquent when he entered the orphanage, and is now a productive member of society because of the time he spent there.

Linegar, 24, said he’s particularly hurt that former Christian brother Joseph Burke, a man who he says shaped his life for the better, could be perceived as a criminally abusive person.

In June, Burke was convicted in Newfoundland Supreme Court on three counts of indecent assault and one count of assault causing bodily harm against boys in Mount Cashel in the mid-1970s.

He was sentenced to 25 months in prison, but the convictions on all counts are under appeal.

“I believe this brother is the best brother Mount Cashel has ever had because he’s helped hundreds of people,” Linegar said of Burke.

“If it wasn’t for him, I’d be in jail today. I think of him as a father.”

Linegar entered Mount Cashel Orphanage in 1978 at age 12, after a family court judge told him he might end up in a youth correctional centre.

“Kids are basically nice, but when I look back at myself when I was 12, I was devious,” he recalled. “I was up to anything and everything. . . . I didn’t give a damn for anybody.”

Linegar said he holds no grudge from being physically punished by Burke, who looked after about 20 or more boys in the St. Pius dormitory.

“He (Burke) deterred me from wanting to do it, and he wanted me to make him proud of me,” he said, recalling the spankings he would receive for stepping out of line.

Burke’s conviction was primarily based on the allegations of a few and in spite of the counter-evidence of many others, he said.

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Ex-Cashel brother gets 25 months

The Montreal Gazette

09 July 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Former Christian Brother Joseph Burke was sentenced yesterday to 25 months in prison for abusing boys at Mount Cashel orphanage. Burke, 42, of Vancouver was convicted last month on three counts of indecent assault and one of assault causing bodily harm involving three boys in the 1970s.

“Tragically, all three complainants have been subject to abuse from others,” said Judge Margaret Cameron. That makes it difficult to discern the precise effect of Burke’s crimes on the former orphanage residents, she said in handing down the sentence.

Burke, a burly red-haired man who left the Roman Catholic lay order in 1982 and moved to British Columbia to teach, is the third of its members or former members to be convicted of abuse in the orphanage sex scandal.

During Burke’s trial – by judge alone – he was painted by colleagues, doctors and some former residents of Mount Cashel as a caring, intelligent man who was a strict disciplinarian but showed no signs of perversion.

Others remembered harsh beatings and frequent sexual abuse.

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Third Brother jailed 25 months

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Tuesday, 09 July 1991

ST. JOHN’S — Canadian Press ST. JOHN’S Former Christian Brother Joseph Burke was sentenced yesterday to 25 months in prison for abusing boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage.

Mr. Burke, 42, of Vancouver, was convicted last month on three counts of indecent assault and one of assault causing bodily harm involving three boys in the seventies.

Under the terms of his parole, Mr. Burke could be out of prison in about four months.

“Tragically, all three complainants have been subject to abuse from others,” said Madam Justice Margaret Cameron of the Newfoundland Supreme Court.

That makes it difficult to discern the precise effect of Mr. Burke’s crimes on the former orphanage residents, she said in handing down the sentence.

Mr. Burke, a burly red-haired man who left the Roman Catholic lay order in 1982 and moved to British Columbia to teach, is the third of its members or former members to be convicted of abuse in the orphanage sex scandal.

Harold Thorne, 51, of St. John’s, and Stephen Rooney, 38, of New Denver, B.C., were each sentenced to six years last spring for several sex-related offences against boys at the St. John’s home.

All three men will be eligible to apply for day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after serving one-third.

Additionally, a neighbour of the orphanage, Richard Pelley, 41, was sentenced to a total of one year on three sex-related convictions.

During Mr. Burke’s trial – by judge alone – he was painted by colleagues, doctors and some former residents of Mount Cashel as a caring, intelligent man who was a strict disciplinarian but showed no signs of perversion.

Others remembered harsh beatings and frequent sexual abuse.

One man said Mr. Burke beat him severely on the buttocks and hips because he had lost his library card and lied about returning a book.

The victims, who cannot be identified under court order, also complained that Mr. Burke fondled their genitals and beat them with belts and rulers.

Judge Cameron said Mr. Burke’s crimes were not as serious as those committed by the two men already convicted. She also noted that his many years as a teacher had passed without incident.

Mr. Burke had faced eight charges involving four boys, but the judge ordered a stay of proceedings on two counts of gross indecency and found Mr. Burke not guilty of another gross indecency charge and one of indecent assault.

The Mount Cashel scandal erupted more than two years ago after a former resident complained about abuse while he was a boy in the mid-seventies.

Police renewed a 14-year-old investigation that began in 1975. That earlier investigation was quashed just days after it began and no charges were laid.

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Ex-Vancouver teacher convicted on sex charges

The Vancouver Sun

29 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Former Vancouver teacher Joseph Burke was found guilty Friday on four counts of abusing young boys at Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1970s.

Burke, 42, a burly, red-haired man, began to shake with anger and dismay as Justice Margaret Cameron read her verdict.

The former Christian Brother, who was vice-principal of Vancouver College when arrested, had faced eight charges involving four boys but was found guilty on just three of indecent assault and one of assault causing bodily harm.

“The simple fact is that citizens who lead exemplary lives for years may still commit crimes,” said Cameron, who is to sentence Burke on July 2.

Defence lawyer Brian Casey failed in an early bid to have all the charges against Burke dropped because it took so long to lay them. He also argued that publicity surrounding the scandal at the St. John’s orphanage would prevent a fair trial.

During the trial – by judge alone – Casey relied on evidence from colleagues, doctors and some former residents of Mount Cashel who painted Burke as a caring, intelligent man who showed no signs of perversion.

But other residents, including the victims, remembered harsh beatings and frequent sexual abuse. The victims also complained that Burke fondled their genitals and spanked them with sticks.

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Another trial opens in Mt. Cashel sex case

The Vancouver Sun

18 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – It took over 10 minutes Monday to read the charges against Edward English, one of eight Christian Brothers accused of sexually abusing boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage.

Two men have already been convicted in the Newfoundland sex scandal.

English, 42, of St. John’s sat quietly as the 20 charges – 13 of indecent assault, five of gross indecency and two of assault causing bodily harm – were read at the beginning of his Newfoundland Supreme Court trial.

Sixteen complainants laid the charges detailing offences said to have occurred between 1971 and 1976.

The trial continues today.

In a second case, the trial of former Christian Brother Joseph Burke took an unexpected turn Monday when the Crown made an application to call rebuttal evidence.

Over defence objections, Justice Margaret Cameron granted a Crown application to present testimony by an expert witness.

The case was postponed until Wednesday to allow the out-of-province witness time to arrive in St. John’s. He is expected to address evidence given last week by two defence witnesses, a forensic psychiatrist and a forensic psychologist, both of whom treated Burke.

Burke, 42, of Vancouver faces four counts of indecent assault, three of gross indecency and one of assault causing bodily harm against boys at Mount Cashel during the 1970s.

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Sex charges called ‘hysteria’ CASHEL TRIAL”Ex-Christian Brother was depressed, suicidal over allegations he abused boys in Newfoundland orphanage, doctors tell trial

The Toronot Globe and Mail

15 June 1991

KEVIN COX

St. John’s — BY KEVIN COX Atlantic Bureau St. John’s ON April 16, 1989, Joseph Burke was teaching school at Vancouver College – a private school where he was a highly respected instructor and football coach.

A day later the burly red-haired former Christian Brother was sitting in a jail cell in St. John’s, accused of beating and sexually molesting boys at the Mount Cashel Orphanage 15 years earlier.

According to evidence from doctors who treated him, Mr. Burke, now on trial charged with assault causing bodily harm, gross indecency and indecent assault, became depressed, began drinking heavily and even contemplated suicide.

He found himself in the middle of what his psychiatrist called “provincial hysteria” in Newfoundland about sexual abuse. Some parents and former students of Mr. Burke in Vancouver raised $40,000 to help him put together a legal defence. This week, during his trial, several travelled to St. John’s to give him glowing references.

That was in stark contrast to the often painful evidence given at his trial by former Mount Cashel residents, four of whom said they were sexually fondled, while one said he was brutally beaten by Mr. Burke in 1975. Some former residents refused to be witnesses for Mr. Burke, who has denied all the allegations.

Vancouver psychiatrist Joseph Noone told the Supreme Court of Newfoundland earlier this week that allegations that members of religious orders molested boys has caused psychological trauma throughout the province.

He said he made the remark about hysteria in a letter to one of Mr. Burke’s lawyers, Marvin Storrow, in May.

In the past three years, eight Christian Brothers and former Brothers, along with at least a dozen Roman Catholic priests, have been charged or convicted of sexually abusing boys in Newfoundland.

Lawyers for several of the Brothers, including Mr. Burke, have tried unsuccessfully to have charges against their clients quashed, saying it would be impossible to get a fair trial in Newfoundland because of the huge amount of publicity given to the allegations.

Mr. Burke, who is being tried by Madam Justice Margaret Cameron, said in testimony earlier this week that some of the allegations about him were “hysteria.”

He said he has had difficulty defending himself against the charges.

“It’s been extremely difficult because of the passage of time,” he said. “People have died or disappeared. Others are afraid to become involved because of the publicity and the animosity. Some are literally terrified of becoming involved.”

The complainants against Mr. Burke, who cannot be identified by court order, have also testified to suffering severe emotional trauma as they recounted the abuse they say they suffered.

One of the former residents of Mount Cashel wept in the witness box earlier this week as he was questioned about sexual abuse he said he suffered from three Christian Brothers (not Mr. Burke) at the orphanage.

Both Dr. Noone and Vancouver psychologist Robert Ley described how Mr. Burke began drinking heavily and became depressed after he was charged and had to give up his teaching position.

Both Dr. Noone and Dr. Ley, who did independent reports on Mr. Burke, insisted he showed no signs of being a homosexual child molestor.

Dr. Ley said that Mr. Burke is heterosexual and that extensive testing showed no evidence of any homosexual experiences or tendencies.

The trial continues next week, as will jury selection for the trials of two other Christian Brothers, Edward English and Edward French.

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Cashel trial told brother had spotless reputation

The Vancouver Sun

15 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Several defence witnesses said Friday that former Christian Brother Joseph Burke was a tough – and, at times, a mean – disciplinarian, but there was never an indication he was a child molester.

“His reputation was spotless, an honorable man,” said Ian Landells, a former student of Burke’s. “Anyone could approach him for help or advice.”

Burke, 42, of Vancouver faces one count of assault causing bodily harm, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault against boys at Mount Cashel during the 1970s.

As a Christian Brother, he worked two terms at the St. John’s orphanage, from 1974 to ’76 and from 1978 to ’81.

Witnesses from Vancouver and former Mount Cashel residents took the stand Thursday to praise Burke as an excellent educator and an honest, caring man.

As the defence wrapped up its case in Newfoundland Supreme Court, Landells said Burke was certainly a disciplinarian, but he had teachers who were worse. He said Burke occasionally strapped students on the hands and hit them with a yardstick across the backside.

Landells said Burke had an incredible ability to motivate people and many of his classmates agreed he was the best teacher they ever had. He said he saw Burke make good students of those with disciplinary and academic problems.

In cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Cathy Knox, the witness said Burke has held in high regard during his years at Mount Cashel and he has trouble accepting allegations of abuse that has come out of a police investigation during the past two years.

On Monday, testimony will begin in the trial of Christian Brother Edward English.

English, 42, of St. John’s, is charged with 13 counts of indecent assault, five counts of gross indecency and two counts of assault causing bodily harm.

Meanwhile, jury selection for Christian Brother Edward French, 60, will continue Monday.

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Character witnesses portray ex-brother as caring person

The Vancouver Sun

14 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Character witnesses portrayed Joseph Burke as an honest and caring person Thursday as the child-abuse trial of the former Christian Brother continued in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

Burke, 42, of Vancouver faces one count of assault causing bodily harm, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault against boys when he was a Christian Brother at Mount Cashel orphanage during the 1970s. In testimony Wednesday, he denied sexually molesting boys.

On Thursday, the defence called a psychiatrist and a psychologist, both of whom treated Burke after he was charged in April 1989, to testify about his character.

Dr. Joseph Noone said he didn’t find any indications of sexual deviations and described Burke as highly respected.

The psychiatrist said Burke was more than usually upset when he was charged. He said Burke’s family doctor referred him to Noone because he was concerned the accused may have become depressed to the point of being suicidal.

Noone said Burke described Mount Cashel as a dysfunctional institute when he arrived in 1974. Burke was concerned about reports of sexual abuse at the St. John’s orphanage and wondered what was behind the boys using the expressions “queer” and “faggot.”

Noone said Burke indicated to him that slapping boys on the bare backside with a strap was fairly common at that time and he himself used the method of corporal punishment.

As for the charge of assault causing bodily harm, he said Burke conceded he may have used excessive force in punishing the boy.

Dr. Robert Ley, a forensic psychologist, related much the same findings.

Ley said Burke acknowledged he was strict and firm at Mount Cashel and never minimized his use of corporal punishment.

Five character witnesses from Vancouver rounded out the day’s testimony. Burke was a vice-principal at Vancouver College when he was arrested.

Two men who have already been tried were convicted of sexual abuse.

Former brother Stephen Rooney, 36, of New Denver, B.C. and Brother Harold Thorne, 51, St. John’s were each sentenced to six years in prison.

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Former Christian Brother denies he abused Cashel boys

The Toronto Globe and Mail

13 June 1991

Kevin Cox

ST. JOHN’S — BY KEVIN COX Atlantic Bureau ST. JOHN’S

A former Christian Brother has angrily denied he was involved in the sadistic abuse of boys at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1970s.

Joseph Burke, now a Vancouver school teacher, testified in Newfoundland Supreme Court yesterday that he did not fondle boys in their beds or hand out brutal and sometimes bizarre punishment. Mr. Burke said the allegations were preposterous, insane, untrue and impossible.

“I never even kissed a boy in my life,” Mr. Burke, 42, said. “I’ve never fondled any child.”

He also became the first of the Brothers to publicly apologize to any of the boys who allege they were molested and beaten at Mount Cashel in the 1970s.

Mr. Burke acknowledged that on one occasion, in 1975, he hit a young boy on the bare buttocks with a plastic belt six times. He said that at the time he felt he had to discipline the 9-year-old boy, who threw a rock at another resident in 1975 and then denied throwing it.

The boy testified he was hit with a belt 30 to 50 times and was so severely bruised that his mother sent him to a hospital, and the police investigated.

Mr. Burke said he has seen photographs of the dark bruises on the boy’s buttocks.

“If that is what happened, then I apologize,” Mr. Burke said, adding he no longer believes corporal punishment is an effective means of discipline. “It was never my intent to harm the boy.”

Mr. Burke also denied an allegation by a former resident that he punished a boy by scratching his armpits until they bled and also fondled him sexually. The boy also alleges that Mr. Burke used to deal out subsequent punishment by picking the scabs until they bled.

“I never picked any scabs and I certainly never created any,” Mr. Burke said.

He said he does not ever remember seeing another complainant from Mount Cashel who alleges Mr. Burke fondled him.

He dismissed another complaint by saying he was not even at the orphanage at a time when a boy alleges he was sexually molested as Mr. Burke applied an ointment to his legs.

He said he objects strenuously to anyone taking sexual advantage of boys and became involved in heated arguments with some other Brothers in 1975 and 1976 about a boy’s complaint that he had been abused. Mr. Burke said he took the boy’s complaint to the Mount Cashel superintendant, Douglas Kenny, who questioned the boy’s credibility.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Catherine Knox said other former residents allege Mr. Burke once forced a boy to sleep on sheets on which the boy had vomited. Mr. Burke denied the allegation.

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Ex-Brother denies Cashel assaults: Vancouver resident in St. John’s court

The Vancouver Sun

13 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – A former Christian Brother denied he sexually molested boys at Mount Cashel orphanage and apologized Wednesday for any injury inflicted while he was administering corporal punishment.

Joseph Burke, 42, was on the stand in Newfoundland Supreme Court to defend himself against charges of sexual and physical abuse of boys at the St. John’s orphanage during the 1970s.

The Vancouver resident faces one count of assault causing bodily harm, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault.

Two of the four complainants said Burke would make the sign of the cross on their foreheads and kiss them on the cheek as he tucked them into bed at night. They said some of the sexual assaults occurred at that time.

“I never put the sign of the cross on anyone’s forehead,” Burke testified. “I never kissed a boy in my life – not even my brother’s son.

“I never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Burke said had no formal training in child care when he was assigned to Mount Cashel in September 1974. Nor, he said, were there social workers to turn to for help when problems arose.

The former brother stayed at Mount Cashel until June 1976 before leaving for two years to teach elsewhere. He returned in 1978, only to quit the Roman Catholic lay order in 1981.

Burke was vice-principal of Vancouver College Catholic school until he was charged with the offences in April 1989 following a second investigation into allegations of abuse during the 1970s.

The first investigation, in 1975, lasted only days and resulted in no charges.

One complainant said he was sexually assaulted by Burke when he was six or seven and had chicken pox, but Burke was in Ontario when the complainant was that age.

Another complainant said he was sexually assaulted when Burke was in charge of St. Stan’s dorm. Burke said he was never in charge of that dorm nor did he know the complainant.

Burke testified that after a boy went to him complaining that he was sexually assaulted by another brother, he reported it to the head of the orphanage. He said Brother Douglas Kenny became angry and told him to leave it with him.

He said he was told in December 1975 that he might be charged for a beating he gave to one of the boys. He said he was willing to go to court and face the consequences.

Burke admitted he was a tough disciplinarian. He said he had punished the boy because during an argument he’d struck another boy in the head with a rock or stick after the boy had turned away.

He said he pull the boy’s snowpants down and slapped him on the backside six times with a plastic belt, not 30 to 50 as the complainant had testified.

Corporal punishment was quite common at Mount Cashel at that time, said Burke.

“The only way to cope was to consider yourself the boys’ father. To consider yourself a nurse or something just wouldn’t work.”

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Conflicting testimony heard at Cashel trial

The Montreal Gazette

12 June 1991

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – A witness in the trial of former Christian Brother Joseph Burke contradicted earlier testimony yesterday, including that of his younger brother.

The younger brother is one of four complainants against Burke, 42, who faces four charges of indecent assault, three of gross indecency and one of assault causing bodily harm against four boys at Mount Cashel orphanage during the 1970s.

The crown witness testified he took his younger brother out of the orphanage after he was told Burke severely beat him. He said he noticed red marks on his brother’s backside and took him to their mother’s home in St. John’s, where authorities were notified.

But he said he didn’t see any cuts or blood on his brother’s backside, as his brother had earlier testified.

He said he heard and saw nothing to indicate his brother was sexually abused by Burke, now a Vancouver resident.

The younger brother testified Monday that Burke would assault him when he was in bed. The assaults, he said, were almost a nightly ritual.

Yesterday a second complainant also testified that Burke put his hand under the blankets and touched his “private parts” while tucking him into bed.

He said sometimes Burke would take him into a closet and pull his pyjamas down.

Defence lawyers say they can’t find any former residents who can corroborate the evidence of the complainants who said Burke sexually assaulted them when he put them to bed.

Yesterday’s first crown witness said it was easy to see what was going on in the dorms at night.

“If that happened, someone would have seen it,” he said.

The witness said Burke had many opportunities to assault him sexually, but he was never touched.

“It simply didn’t happen.”

The witness said when other Christian Brothers sexually assaulted him, another boy advised him not to tell the supervisor.

“So I went to Brother Burke because I trusted him,” he said. “He was good to me, I know that.”

A third complainant against Burke said he got along well with the brother until an outbreak of chicken pox at the orphanage.

He said Burke took him to a room, stood him on a chair and took down his pyjamas to apply ointment to a rash on his legs. But he said ointment was also applied to his genitals and buttocks and Burke once inserted a finger into his rectum. This happened 10 or 12 times over a two-week period, he said.

The fourth complainant said he, too, liked Burke at first, but he had a bed-wetting problem and was often punished. He testified he was told to take off his clothes and Burke would pick and pinch his armpits and fondle his genitals.

That occurred once or twice a week, even after sores developed in his armpits.

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Christian Brother called bad, good Two images emerge at trial

The Toronto Globe and Mail

12 June 1991

Kevin Cox

ST. JOHN’S — BY KEVIN COX Atlantic Bureau

ST. JOHN’S Some former residents of the Mount Cashel Orphanage remember Christian Brother Joseph Burke as a friend to turn to when they were abused.

Other residents remember him as an abuser who disciplined them with harsh beatings and frequently fondled boys sexually.

The two images have emerged from the trial of Mr. Burke, a burly red- haired man who now teaches school in Vancouver. He is facing eight charges, including assault causing bodily harm, gross indecency and indecent assault, arising out of incidents that allegedly occurred at the St. John’s institution in the mid-1970s.

Yesterday, a former resident of Mount Cashel told the Supreme Court of Newfoundland that Mr. Burke used to discipline him for such offences as wetting the bed or doing poorly in school by pinching and scratching his armpits until they bled.

“He would pick my armpits, or he’d tell me to take off my clothes and he’d touch my private parts. . . . He would tell me that if I kept being a bad boy he’d send me back to my father,” the man said.

The complainant, who cannot be identified under the order of Madam Justice Margaret Cameron, said social workers had taken him away from his home when he was 10 because his father had abused him and left him locked up in a room for long periods.

Another complainant said Mr. Burke frequently went to his bed at night and fondled his genitals when he was about 9. The man also accused Mr. Burke of beating him with a belt in 1975.

A third complainant said Mr. Burke once lined up several boys in a closet at Mount Cashel, forced them to pull down their pants and beat them with a ruler.

A fourth said that on several occasions Mr. Burke placed his finger up his rectum when he was 9 and fondled him sexually as the Christian Brother rubbed on ointment for a rash on the boy’s legs.

Another former Mount Cashel resident wept as he described sexual abuse he said he suffered from other Christian Brothers, but he said he always trusted Mr. Burke, who he said took good care of the boys.

“He never so much as laid a hand on me. . . . I’ve never known him to sexually abuse anyone,” the man said, agreeing with defence lawyer Marvin Storrow that Mr. Burke was not like other Brothers who face similar charges.

He said that he once went to Mr. Burke in the mid-1970s to complain about being sexually abused by another Brother at the orphanage and that Mr. Burke agreed to speak to the man.

It would be very difficult for anyone to go through a dormitory at Mount Cashel fondling boys without being seen by others, said the witness, who cannot be identified because he is a complainant in three other cases involving Christian Brothers.

He said that because of the abuse he saw and suffered at Mount Cashel he can quickly spot abusers.

But under questioning from prosecutor Catherine Knox, he acknowledged that he was shocked when a Brother was convicted in 1982 of sexually abusing boys at Mount Cashel.

The trial continues today.

15 Responses to Burke: Joseph Burke

  1. Tim Stoddart says:

    I attended Vancouver College and graduated there in 1987. I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Burke for several of my courses there as it was well known among students that we was a terrific teacher. Mr Burke was one of the greatest influences in my life during my high school years and the best teacher I ever had. He was strict and firm, yet easily approachable and always fair. He was always available for help and was respected by every student who attended school there. I still refer to Mr. Burke fondly when talking with my friends and family about my high school life and consider him as the best part of my time at VC. I am very happy to have had him as a teacher and to have known him as a person. He is a good man…a very good man, and I will always remember him as such.

  2. John says:

    Tim Stoddart – have a visit to the BC Teachers Regulation Branch for the recent reprimand and quick retirement of your former teacher, Joseph.

    http://www.bcteacherregulation.ca/documents/FormsandPublications/ProfConduct/DisciplineDecisions/Burke_CRA_20130917.pdf

    • Sylvia says:

      I just posted the document John. Thank you for drawing it to our attention.

      17 September 2013: Former Christian Brother Joseph Burke – suspension of British Columbia teaching license for “non payment of fees”

      It’s a little strange in that the reason given for the suspension of Burke’s teaching certificate is “non payment of fees,” but the decision goes on to reference a 05 February 2013 complaint regarding the manner in which Burke disciplined a class at Vancouver College the previous month, at which time Burke was suspended with pay (01 February 2013) and then retired 13 February 2013.

      Is this a bit of tap dancing? Was he actually suspended because he had the students kneeling with hands in the air etc, or because of non-payment? Is this perhaps a ‘sweet deal’ which allows Burke to save face? It sounds like it, ” Burke admits to professional misconduct” and “Burke acknowledges he has voluntarily entered into this Agreement…”

      By way of interest, back in March 1996 after the Supreme Court of Canada threw out three sex-abuse-related convictions against Burke and upheld one of assault causing bodily harm, Burke was quoted as follows: “Punishment in general is not particularly efficacious.”

  3. Alan says:

    I also graduated at VC in the same year as Mr. Stoddart. I attended VC from 1982-87.
    I was ambivalent to Mr. Burke as a teacher though I did not dislike him. I did not witness any conduct from him over that period of time which would be construed as crossing the line of propriety. His demeanor and conduct towards students then – as far as I can recollect – was professional and he stayed true as a teacher respected by my classmates. I have fond memories of VC and I see no reason that Mr. Burke, for any reason related to his suspension, has blemished that.

  4. John Drescher STM grad 1983 says:

    Yep. must’ve calmed down in the later years. the years I was there he was right in on it with the rest.

  5. Zach Wong says:

    I graduated in 2012. Mr. Burke was one of the greatest teachers/ football coaches known to VC. It is warming to see above, comments from people who graduated 7 years before I was even born, saying they had the same experience as I did with Burke. It goes to show the man was truly a good person from the start. Not only that, but he was my uncles neighbor, so I knew him growing up even before I attended VC.

    It makes me sick to read these articles, I mean what is this website supposed to represent? If I were to read this as someone who doesn’t know Burke at all you might think he’s pretty messed up! Not the case at all though. Plus his termination due to “kids having their hands in the air”… That is an absolute joke. This website is a joke. It is just a collection of media archives, or in other words, a collection of everything but personal experience with the man which is the only thing that should matter. I ask that the admin running this site please spare the man his dignity and remove these articles, or at least have a disclaimer at the top mentioning personal testimonials we are making here in the comments. I know for a fact that all 149 of the kids I graduated in 2012 would say the same thing about Mr. Burke and it is a shame to see his career end this way. He doesn’t deserve it at all.

    • Patrik P, future grad of 2017 says:

      I was in that class, this actually happened… This happened to homeroom 8-4, during Socials class. people were ‘too loud” and that is why we were given the punishment. So I beg to differ that this website is actually credible. This site is supposed to publicize the sex scandals of the Canadian Catholic Church, since almost all other cases are largely ignored. The official story they gave us a day later was “health problems” . Two weeks later, he “announced his retirement via letter to us, read by the principal. Basically it was a cover- up.

    • Peter Hillier says:

      Well my experiences with him in the late 70’s would curl your hair.

  6. Grad of 1986 says:

    Big frigging deal, you had to hold your arms above your head. Burke threw me across a classroom when I was in Grade 10 and guess what..I deserved it. After that incident he became my favorite teacher. Corporal punishment is wrong but I have to say that, it sure seems there were a lot fewer disciplinary problems back then and more respect given. He was a great teacher but he didn’t put up with crap…I guess that’s politically incorrect old-school now.

  7. William says:

    I remember Burke from St.Pius X (approx1974) in St.John’s ..One day me and another grade 7or8 boy(who was from Mt. Cashel) were making some noises and Burke caught us. He told us to come to the front of the class where he had a paddle made of wood with “Heat for the seat” written on it with a red marker. He told us to bend over and hit us on the buttocks with it numerous times..That’s Joe Burke…So it’s still on between me and Burke..lol

  8. Sean says:

    The ONLY reason Burke was never convicted was because the 3 boys he physically and mentally abused for years at Vancouver College never came forward to tell their story. He is a lucky man to say the least. He is a vile human being that prays on the weak and vulnerable.

  9. Grad of 1986 says:

    The ONLY reason Burke was never convicted was because the 3 boys he physically and mentally abused for years at Vancouver College never came forward to tell their story. He is a lucky man to say the least. He is a vile human being that prays on the weak and vulnerable.

  10. Sean McNamara says:

    I went to Vancouver College from 1980 to 1985. I was taught by Brother English, Brother French and Joseph Burke.

    Burke was always a bully and taught through intimidation. Just another rotten apple shuffled around by this sick religious organization.

  11. 07 Grad says:

    The older I get the more I realize just how inappropriate Burke’s behavior was. I do not think I was ever on his bad or good side when I attended Vancouver College but his tactics clearly had no effect on the students he was trying discipline. If he was not before he was clearly made extremely bitter from his trial and I am shocked that he was hired to teach. Not only was he a mediocre teacher, but his outbursts did nothing to instill maturity in his students.

  12. Peter Hillier says:

    Joe Burke was my home room teacher for two year, 8th and 9th, grad at St Bonaventure’s in St John’s NL prior to his stint at Moint Cashel. I had lost my mother in a car accident in 7th grade and as a result my grades suffered in the following year. Rather than having an understanding staff, I was frequently beaten; several times a week sometimes, by Brother Joe Burke or Mr MacDonald. One day he broke two 1metre pointers over my ass and then proceeded to break the 4 halves in half, because I hand the done my homework.

    Any thought that Burke suggests that he didn’t like corporal punishment is complete BS.

    I only heard of his charges after the fact from a friend that had been approached by his legal counsel to be a character witness. They all came from the affluent students who all did well and never received any discipline.

    He got off way too easy and I hope he rots in hell

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