A chilling number from the 1957 roster of Mount Cashel was read out in Courtroom No. 2 at Newfoundland Supreme Court this morning.
Among the 10 Christian Brothers serving at Mount Cashel in February of that year, four were ultimately convicted of crimes against children.
© Barb Sweet/The Telegram
At the Mount Cashel civil trial Friday are (from left) former orphanage residents’ lawyer Geoff Budden, Catholic church lawyer Mark Frederick and St. John’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Martin Currie.
Outside court, one of the John Does in the civil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s was not shocked by the number because of what he has said were his experiences with physical and sexual abuse at the hands of certain members of the lay order Christian Brothers. He left the orphanage a couple years before 1957.
“I think it’s old news,” he said.
He reflected on his own disclosure after the scandal that broke in the late 1980s and of subsequently learning the extent of abuse — the boys didn’t talk of it to each while at the orphanage.
“Later on, when I looked back and saw the number, it’s not that there were sexual perpetrators, but that there were so many,” he said. “There’s the thing — it was systemic. It’s not just an odd one, a mutant personality there.”
In court, Geoff Budden, lawyer for former residents of the orphanage during the period late 1940s to early ’60s, and Mark Frederick, a lawyer representing the Episcopal Corp., read into the record the transcript of a current day high-ranking Christian Brothers’ official Anthony Murphy.
The transcript was of a discovery interview the two lawyers conducted with Murphy recently in New York. Instead of calling him to the stand in person, they agreed to just have the transcript entered as evidence.
Murphy is a Newfoundlander who rose through the ranks of the Christian Brothers as an educator and official, but he didn’t serve at Mount Cashel and so has no personal tie to events there. He did not become a Christian Brother until 1970, but knew some of the Brothers from Mount Cashel in their later years.
In court Friday, Budden read out the questions he asked during the interview with Murphy and Frederick read out Murphy’s answers.
“You are aware of the 10 individuals at Mount Cashel in February 1957, four of them were ultimately convicted of crimes against children arising out of their times at Mount Cashel?” Budden asked, referring to a list from that time.
“Yes, I guess so,” Murphy replied.
Four John Does are test cases in the lawsuit against the Episcopal Corp.
They represent 60 residents of the orphanage during the period 1940s to early ’60s who say the Catholic Church should be held responsible for the physical and sexual abuse of boys by certain members of the lay order Christian Brothers.
The church contends it didn’t run the orphanage, so it is not responsible.
The Christian Brothers were named as respondents when the lawsuit was launched in 1999, but have since gone bankrupt.
The trial, presided over by Justice Alphonsus Faour, continues Monday.
Follow bsweettweets for live updates from the courtroom.