Co-chair of victims’ committee urges archdiocese to settle

Barb Sweet
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The Mount Cashel orphanage, 1989


The co-chair of a committee of representative victims of the Irish Christian Brothers is calling on the Archdiocese of St. John’s to take the Christian Brothers settlement as a sign and accept a role in the sex abuse scandal.

On Thursday, a settlement was reached with the Catholic lay order, the Christian Brothers, that affects 160 victims of sexual abuse in

St. John’s — mostly former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s. Some 10 per cent of the victims were other school children.

The victims include people who were at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1940s right up to when it closed in the late ’80s. The legal battle for those victims stretches back to the late 1990s.

The settlement does not prevent the abuse victims from taking action against the archdiocese.

“So they have a part to play,” said the man who can’t be named. “They are the overseers. We will see how ‘Christian’ they are and how quickly they want to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion. Those boys, they have been hurt. They need to be compensated for pain and suffering. Let’s get it done. Lot of churches are not about healing and faith, they are about power and money.”

Speaking for the Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s Friday, vicar general Rev. Frank Puddister said the archdiocese has been working as quickly as it can to address all claims of abuse against it.

In relation to the Christian Brothers’ settlement, he said the archdiocese welcomes the news as a “big step forward.”

“What we can do is look and see, do we have liability?” he said.

“Examine this and say ‘What response do we give to the claims?’ … Are we liable or not liable? We will receive the best advice we can and hope to bring it to a conclusion.”

He said the archdiocese did not have direct supervision of the Christian Brothers.

The Christian Brothers settlement includes a $16.5-million cash payment from the Christian Brothers and one of its insurers and affects 400 men and women in the U.S. and Canada who say they were molested as children by members of the Christian Brothers.

The committee approved terms and conditions of an agreed-to reorganization plan in the

Chapter 11 cases of The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

It must be voted on by all the claimants: requiring two-thirds acceptance.

Details will then be worked of who gets what compensation.

The committee co-chair was at Mount Cashel in the 1940s, along with four brothers, also victims.

Since the Chapter 11, he and the other six members of the committee — two of which were formerly orphanage residents, participated in weekly teleconferences.

It was like looking in the mirror when he met the others on three occasions and when he heard other victims’ stories from across the U.S.

“It kind of hit you. You were not a little island out there in the middle of the Atlantic alone,” he said.

“I met the real, live victims and it’s not only me anymore. … That’s a big thing. It kind of knocks you backwards. It was so big and so common.

“You read it in the paper —  Ireland, Australia —  those are faraway places you hear about. There is no truth in hearing things. There’s truth when you get somebody face-to-face and can see the emotion, feel their pain. They can feel your pain.”

He said there’s no amount of money that can remove the taint of the horrific abuse, but there are some never compensated victims that can use the funds to help them get on with their lives.

He thanked the legal team, which included Geoff Budden of Budden, Morris law offices in Mount Pearl.

Another man, not an orphanage survivor, said he was fondled in Holy Cross at the age of 11 or 12 on different occasions in the 1960s and doesn’t want school victims to be overlooked. He’d always suspected his older brother was also abused and about a year ago, the conversation came up.

“My exact words were ‘I (expletive) knew he molested you,” said the man who doesn’t want his name used either.

The man is indifferent to Thursday’s settlement.

“Its not about the money. It’s the accountability, bringing those bastards to justice and accountability,” he said.

“Nobody can ever imagine or realize what you go through.”

The settlement cash could potentially be increased by several million because there is an outstanding lawsuit involving a high school in the Bronx area of New York, plus dealings with other insurers that haven’t been settled, as well as the future sale of three properties.

Billy Earle, who was at the orphange in the 1970s and testified at the Hughes Inquiry, received compensation previously. It is not clear if or how he or other victims already dealt with will be affected by the settlement announced Thursday. But he was astounded at the extent of holdings.

“It goes to show the essence of the Catholic organization, how they take stuff and hide it,” Earle said Friday.

He said the order should have settled matters when the abuse came to light and as victims came forward.

“To drag it on another 20 years, this late is ludicrous,” he said.

In a news release Friday, lawyer Bob Buckingham also said the claims could have been settled many years ago.

“The resistance to settle by the Christian Brothers, the Roman Catholic Church and responsible governments delayed these survivors realizing justice and obtaining compensation. No amount of money can compensate these men for the abuse they suffered and the long process they have had to endure to achieve this settlement,” he said.

The Justice department would not comment on the settlement due to outstanding claims against the province.

Organizations: Christian Brothers Institute, Catholic Archdiocese, Christian Brothers.The committee Hughes Inquiry Catholic organization Roman Catholic Church

Geographic location: Mount Cashel, U.S., Canada Atlantic Australia Holy Cross Bronx New York

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Recent comments

  • Fred foley
    October 08, 2013 - 15:03

    From 1959 to1968 i and my friends lived with the black robes . Justice will never come from the atrocities these bastards committed in the name of religion. October2013 and still no apologies no emotional help and so far no financial help to give us some closure.

  • disgusted former catholic
    May 26, 2013 - 11:23

    I am totally disgusted with the Catholic Church here for the way they are handling this . Priests were abusing kids from there as well as the Christian Brothers . The deputy chief of the RNC stalled a previous investigation that allowed this to go on for years more. So the fault is their now pay up for your sins and let the victims go on with whats left of their lives and heal. I will never set foot in a Catholic Church again because of the way you treated these victims who deserve much better. The Church is supposed to help people and not hurt them them but obviously they are greedy and its all about collecting money from you and living a luxurious life. They don't help the poor or victims of sexual abuse , so what are they there for? The sheep will continue to follow these sinners and support their corruption and coverups at all levels. These people should be jailed for covering up sexual abuse against innocent children and be forced to give up their luxuries and pay the victims for their sins.

  • Thin Line
    May 26, 2013 - 07:11

    @Jay - A civil law suit where someone is being sued, it not the same as a criminal law suit where someone is being charged. Being civily liable is not the same as being criminally guilty. There are different degrees of facts and resonable doubt required for each. If someone is found civily liable, they are not automatically found criminally guilty. Even if you want to make that stretch, you have to wait until the civil law suit is over before you say guilty. As the case is civil and not over yet, "innocent until proven guilty." There is no doubt that there are some people who are guilty as they are doing time. However, The Telegram is right to report "400 say" as there are the number of people making the civil suit against the criminally guilty people and other people. This number is simply not a direct report on the number of people who the courts decided were victims of those criminally guilty.

  • Florence Parsons
    May 25, 2013 - 19:45

    Mother Church "What would Jesus do?"

  • george p b
    May 25, 2013 - 16:28

    from the article----- Speaking for the Catholic Archdiocese Rev. Frank Puddister said “What we can do is look and see, do we have liability?” .. “Examine this and say ‘What response do we give to the claims?’ … Are we liable or not liable? We will receive the best advice we can and hope to bring it to a conclusion.” He said the archdiocese did not have direct supervision of the Christian Brothers....... Methinks "the Pud" is talking gobbledegook & stone walling, questioning the Archdiocese's liability. It's a sign the church will be digging its heels in & dragging their feet every step of the way. DISGRACEFUL!!!!!

  • DON II
    May 25, 2013 - 09:56

    It appears that the duplicitous connection between Church and State in Newfoundland is rooted in historical connections that date back over 400 years. It appears that the Church and State in Newfoundland are one and the same in practical terms and each has depended on and worked with the other to maintain power and control over the people in Newfoundland and Labrador. I commend the lawyers and the victims who are prepared to take on the Church and the Government of Newfoundland. Regrettably, that task will be difficult, costly and protracted as the Church and State will use their enormous power and financial resources to inordinately delay, obfuscate, misdirect, blame the victims and fight any and all challenges to their centuries old entrenched power. Justice must be done and must be seen to be done. The lawyers who take on the Church and State must be willing to resist the urge to settle quickly for less rather than to persevere over a protracted time frame to obtain the maximum compensation possible. The battle between good and evil is never ending! Someone once said that evil prevails when good people do nothing to stop it. The Government of Newfoundland has a long and sordid history of cover ups, wrongful convictions, abuses of power and authority and abuse of persons based on an arrogant, draconian and imperious concept of the use of political power that has not changed since the beginning or organized Government in Newfoundland!

  • Jay
    May 25, 2013 - 09:19

    "the settlement includes..............400 men and women....who"SAY" they were abused." Are Barb Sweet and the Telegram the only ones still contesting this on behalf of the Christian Brothers?