A man told the Mount Cashel civil trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court that he was taken in the 1950s by a Christian Brother to the boiler room at the orphanage and fondled, beginning the two worst years of his life ever in which he said he was sexually “stalked” by that Brother and abused numerous times.
The man said he told priests about the incidents in and out of confession and his once serious interest in pursuing a career in the priesthood or as a Christian Brother ended with a loss of faith because his situation was not helped.
Outside of those conversations, he said he first personally spoke of the incidents in the 1990s. None of the allegations were ever dealt with in a criminal court, he testified. (There were criminal cases in the era following the 1989 Hughes Inquiry.)
The man is not represented by lawyers Budden and Associates as part of the case before Justice Alphonsus Faour, but said he contacted the firm after he read newspaper coverage of the civil trial. He has been a claimant with another St. John’s law firm.
The man cannot be identified because of a publication ban. The names of deceased priests are also banned from publication.
The 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, the late 1940s to early 1960s. The test cases represent about 60 claimants represented by Geoff Budden’s firm.
The church contends it did not run the orphanage, therefore is not responsible for actions of the lay order Christian Brothers there.
The man said he was brought to the orphanage by a priest, but conceded to Susan Adam Metzler, who represents the church, he was young at the time and may have been unaware of who organized his admission to the orphanage, but that’s what he was told years later.
His father died in 1943, months before the witness was born to a family with several children. His mother remarried but later died. His stepfather left with his own kids — the man’s half siblings — and for a time he was cared for by a sister. The man, one of three brothers in the orphanage, said the early years at the orphanage were good, as things were bad at home with little food and sickness.
Later years were also OK, once the two Brothers who he said abused him left the orphanage, he said.
The witness conceded to Adam Metzler that he is unaware of what further conversations that priests he spoke to had with others.
He also conceded the Brothers were responsible for the boys’ education, and daily routines at the orphanage.
Look for expanded coverage in The Telegram online and in print Thursday.
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© Barb Sweet/The Telegram
Lawyers Mark Frederick and Susan Adam Metzler represent the Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s.
It was uncertain Tuesday whether the Mount Cashel civil trial will include evidence entered from videotapes of some witnesses who testified at the Hughes Inquiry nearly 30 years ago.
Newfoundland Supreme Court Justice Alphonsus Faour did not rule on the matter as of the end of the court day Tuesday.
Faour is presiding over a civil trial to determine whether the church is liable for the physical and sexual abuse of boys by certain Christian Brothers at the orphanage during the late 1940s to early 1960s.
The church contends it did not run the orphanage, and therefore is not legally responsible.
Budden wants the court to see some tapes from the Hughes Inquiry — regarding some testimony of a former resident, the inquiry investigator, an RCMP officer and an archdiocese official. All are deceased.
But Frederick said the Hughes Inquiry can’t be used for a collateral purpose in the civil trial.
The Hughes Inquiry, which began in 1989, was sparked when stories emerged about abuse of boys at the orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s.
Frederick said the inquiry was charged with a narrow focus — examining the failed police and justice system investigations of abuse allegations and how to improve the system to prevent future failings.
Frederick contends the inquiry did not examine the relationship between the lay order Irish Christian Brothers and the Catholic Church, and it is unfair and irrelevant to this trial on liability.
Faour did allow the entering into evidence of part of a deceased man’s discovery evidence from 2010. A discovery is a process in which lawyers on both sides interview witnesses as part of case preparation.
Budden read into evidence portions of the discovery interview in which a former resident from around the 1950s claimed he tried to see the archbishop to report an incident at the orphanage. Crying, the boy asked the receptionist to see the bishop, but was told he was not in. He also stated he was brought back to the orphanage by a priest.
Today’s testimony is expected to include a former resident, though he is not one of the four test cases before the court.
Follow bsweettweets for live tweets from the courtroom and look for expanded coverage online and in print Thursday.