Priest's victims give up the fight

Nadya Bell
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Justice Still owed $2 million

Greg Stack, the lawyer representing 40 people who were sexually abused by Father Kevin Bennett says his clients have decided it's pointless to go after the final $2 million they're owed in their victims' settlement.

Stack said they will accept a final instalment, bringing the total up to $12 million. At that point, each person will have received about 86 per cent of what they were entitled to of the $14-million settlement from St. George's diocese.

Greg Stack

Greg Stack, the lawyer representing 40 people who were sexually abused by Father Kevin Bennett says his clients have decided it's pointless to go after the final $2 million they're owed in their victims' settlement.

Stack said they will accept a final instalment, bringing the total up to $12 million. At that point, each person will have received about 86 per cent of what they were entitled to of the $14-million settlement from St. George's diocese.

"We're kind of disappointed that the bishop himself out there has not raised any money and has sort of washed his hands of it," Stack said. "After making a commitment to us 2 1/2 ago that he would move heaven and Earth and raise the money, now he's sort of shrugging his shoulders.

"The church can go out and fundraise, we know they can get money from other dioceses, we know they can get money, ultimately, from Rome if they wanted to. They've chosen to be hard-nosed with this."

Bishop Douglas Crosbie did not return calls requesting an interview.

Despite the victims' decision not to press the diocese into full bankruptcy for the rest of the claim past the Dec. 31, 2008 deadline, Stack says ideally the outstanding debt should be paid.

"They haven't lived up to their word. But to pursue it is going to cost a fair bit of money, probably more than it's worth," he says.

If the settlement had been larger, Stack says they would have a strong legal case against the church because of the business transactions the diocese has used to keep the main church buildings in western Newfoundland, and potentially protect their property from further legal action.

While three dioceses in the United States have been forced into full bankruptcy over sexual assault claims, St. George's will remain in operation because it sought bankruptcy protection.

Through a complicated business transaction, Stack says the church has put itself in a position where the company that now owns its assets is not legally responsible for the actions of the church and its members.

According to the negotiated settlement between the church and the victims, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. George's sold its main churches in Corner Brook, Stephenville and other communities to the Corner Brook Episcopal Lands Corp., a private company started by a number of diocese leaders.

The church then used the money from selling the churches to themselves to pay part of the settlement

"They're still hanging on to everything, and they're left intact," Stack says.

"They've got everything they wanted ... in the name of a different company, but it's still themselves."

Stack said there's also concerns about any future claims that might arise against a church whose assets are held by a private corporation.

"It's like it's a private corporation, it's not the Catholic Church," he said.

"Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. George's makes the church answerable to Newfoundland for actions it does as a church, and this means bishops, and supervising priests. I doubt whether a simple private corporation would be liable for those actions, which is why they're probably trying to go that route."

Through a mediated settlement, insurance companies are paying $2.5 million to the church, which will make up part of the final payment, plus another $1.2 million raised by the church.

Stack says that's a fair settlement for the insurance companies, because they figure only 23 per cent of the crimes occurred in times and places where insurance might apply.

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Labrador recently received $1.2 million for the sale of the former Labrador City Collegiate.

Stack said he finds it strangely coincidental that the building was sold for the same amount that St. George's diocese recently indicated it would pay victims.

The Roman Catholic Church has been planning to reorganize the diocese to include Labrador.

While the assets of the Labrador diocese were not included as part of the bankruptcy protection assessment, perhaps they should have been if the two groups have already been merged, Stack said.

nbell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Episcopal Corp. of Labrador, Roman Catholic Church, Corner Brook Episcopal Lands

Geographic location: St. George's, Newfoundland, Rome United States Corner Brook

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I hope something good comes out of this. However, most of this type of thing goes on within families. Is anyone doing anything to stop it?

  • Nod
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Public fundraising to pay the victims ? Why should the public make these people rich ? Public money should support public projects not make certain people rich or pay for someone else's responsibilities. Get the money from the Vatican.

  • Sandy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    And we wonder why everone has lost interest in involving themselves with the catholic church. I never ever considered it a religion, more like a large cash hungry corporation.

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    If I were Catholic, I wouldn't leave my son alone for one minute with these (priets).

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    What the lay people fail to understand is that the Church is above the law and not bound by its judgements.

    Rather sad, that.

  • Carolyn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I believe Chico Alexander misunderstands how the system operates.

    Dioceses know they can wait out survivor attorneys through costly legal maneuvers, to the point sometimes where lawyers have gone into hock themselves. There comes a time where attorneys cannot afford to continue a fight.

    They do not get paid until a settlement is reached. Often, they go years piling up costs without remuneration. Meanwhile church attorneys get paid right on time as they go along.

    I read that Greg Stack and his clients have reached a point where it is not worth pushing on through more years of litigation, especially where Crosbie has put assets outside the church's legal liabilities.

    It becomes an expensive, tricky quagmire that drains survivors for years as motions before the court work their way to resolution, and then you can still lose. Crosbie has played legal hardball bigtime.

    Again, congratulations to Stack and his clients for persisting this long.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    It is very unfortunate that father Bennett was not caught in his act before he ruined the lives ofso many children in Newfoundlandand Labrador ,and perhaps elsewhere? There are perhaps many more like him who have gone beneath the soil of Newfoundland with many acts and regrets ilke father Bennets tucked away in their souls. I hope they were turned away at the perley gates and given a bucket of chaulk to mark down the names of kids they have ruined for life. There was much physical and mental abuse by the preists, and who knows how many nuns have had their thrills from so many innocent children as well over the years.

    One cannot tar all preists with the brush of wrong doings as there are many respectable preists who have done so much for society. Those who took advantage of the children were mentally disturbed and were caught in their acts and placed on security wards in mental Institutions. There are others who may be hiding in fear behind that kind and caring smile?

    Only God knows what sexual acts so many disturbed preists have acted upon, and we all hope if there are others who are hiding behind the comfortble domains of the church , in convents, or during retreats, to seek help..

    The church should pay their debts to those who suffered, and the community should not have to pay the church back through the collection plate or contributions. It should also be made known as to how much the lawyers representing those children are receiving.
    The lawyers have done a good job in helping those who have been treated so unjustly.

    Frank Blackwood
    Richmond Hill, Ont

  • Carolyn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Ignore the drivel above about anti-Catholicism in the US being the motive for filing lawsuits about the sexual abuse of minors. That argument is the refuge of those who have not sat with survivors and watched what they endure when seeking justice.

    So, Bishop Douglas Crosbie has abandoned efforts to make full payment, for which he gave his WORD. That should make clear what a bishop's word is worth.

    Crosbie strains the gnats of procedure, and jurisdiction, and technicality, and interpretation, while swallowing the camel of injustice. Get away with whatever is possible, knowing survivors lack the resources to continue the effort.

    He is a disgrace to his office, and to himself. I wonder if he is proud of his clever maneuvering, the heavy burdens he creates for those who suffer.

    To the survivors of Fr. Kevin Bennett, and their lawyer, Greg Stack: thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to pursue the truth, and hold the church accountable. We believe and embrace you.

    It is because of your strength in coming forward that our children are safer today. You claimed your power. Hold your heads high.

  • sandy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    how is the Church gettin away with this?....the atrocities committed onto these innocents are atrocities committed onto each one of us, onto very humanity.

  • J.J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Kevin Bennett ,hopefully will one day rot in hell.I survived an attack by this priest.I did not seek compensation tho I applaud the people who did.There were many people in the know back then but kept things quiet.I told many adults, who in turn told me that this guy was a holy priest and I should be ashamed to say such things.The catholic church and Kevin Bennett had so much control that today it is hard to understand why.When I think back,the fear that I felt back then,still is so fresh and strong.
    I believe in god but have no time for organized religion.I just like to add that I am glad that my parents went to their grave not knowing that such acts were being committed by priests like Kevin Bennett.At least their beliefs weren't shattered.

  • chico
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    If I understand this right. Greg Stack has failed to pursue the legalities on behalf of the victims. giving the decision by the church on refusing to stand by thier original agreement can now be directly pursued by the victims themselves. Great, now I personally know a few more victims that will be laubching another legal battle.

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    the catholic church is a fraud.the priests are still out smooth talking old ladies into leaving part of if not all of their inheritance to the church if not the priest himself. god what christians

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I would be ashamed to tell anyone that I was Catholic. Power, greed and pervertiveness seem to be the main ingredients.

  • WTF
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I guess the only winner in this disgusting affair is the lawyers.

  • john
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    The Catholic Church as a whole is not innocent in all of this. The were aware, for years that there were issues and attempted to make problems go away by reassignment of priests. Being that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations in the world in land holdings it would go a long way to make ammends by making payment to the victems once compensation has been established through the courts.

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Thank you to Catholic Church/Priests for accepting responsibility that they afflicted on innocent boys. I can't fathom why catholics can sit in church and listen to these sick people. I guess it takes a sick person to believe another one!!!

  • Robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    So 40 people get to share $12 million? Over what period of time and when did these abuses occur?
    Here in the states, child abuse in the public schools runs at 300% higher than in the Catholic Church, but only Catholics are pursued going back 50 years. All other organizations and governments have a 7 year limitation. The Catholic-bashing in America is rampant.

  • villegirl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I am not defending the priests.. and or catholics.. I am catholic.. by baptism that is.. but I will tell you right now.. its not just priests out there that are sexually expoiting young childring.. It goes on everyone.. in every town, and by all walks of life.. yes.. it did happen to many kids by alot of preists.. but you can't say all priests are the same.. just like you can't say all cops are bad.. some people just give the good ones a bad name..

    However.. I do agree.. The ones that do harm children.. like father bennett.. should pay for their sins.. Spend a lifetime in their own confessional booth repenting for the years of suffering they have caused.

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Don from NL I am a lapsed Christian/Catholic raised in Mount Cashel Orphanage but sir I feel your comments about 'it takes a sick mind to listen to one' smacks of religious bigotry. Other christian denominations as well as jews, muslim, buddihists, hindi, the lot, have all had their deviant preachers. There are people who need 'a' church environment for whatever reason and it is hurtful to express views such as yours about their participation in the church of their choice. Hate the sin not the sinner....Pat Williams

  • Maureen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I can't believe the church is getting away with this. We should all bring them to their holy little knees, and put them out of business for good.

  • Manny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I wonder how many sick people believe Don.

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Priests are nymphs.

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I hope something good comes out of this. However, most of this type of thing goes on within families. Is anyone doing anything to stop it?

  • Nod
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Public fundraising to pay the victims ? Why should the public make these people rich ? Public money should support public projects not make certain people rich or pay for someone else's responsibilities. Get the money from the Vatican.

  • Sandy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    And we wonder why everone has lost interest in involving themselves with the catholic church. I never ever considered it a religion, more like a large cash hungry corporation.

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    If I were Catholic, I wouldn't leave my son alone for one minute with these (priets).

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    What the lay people fail to understand is that the Church is above the law and not bound by its judgements.

    Rather sad, that.

  • Carolyn
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    I believe Chico Alexander misunderstands how the system operates.

    Dioceses know they can wait out survivor attorneys through costly legal maneuvers, to the point sometimes where lawyers have gone into hock themselves. There comes a time where attorneys cannot afford to continue a fight.

    They do not get paid until a settlement is reached. Often, they go years piling up costs without remuneration. Meanwhile church attorneys get paid right on time as they go along.

    I read that Greg Stack and his clients have reached a point where it is not worth pushing on through more years of litigation, especially where Crosbie has put assets outside the church's legal liabilities.

    It becomes an expensive, tricky quagmire that drains survivors for years as motions before the court work their way to resolution, and then you can still lose. Crosbie has played legal hardball bigtime.

    Again, congratulations to Stack and his clients for persisting this long.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    It is very unfortunate that father Bennett was not caught in his act before he ruined the lives ofso many children in Newfoundlandand Labrador ,and perhaps elsewhere? There are perhaps many more like him who have gone beneath the soil of Newfoundland with many acts and regrets ilke father Bennets tucked away in their souls. I hope they were turned away at the perley gates and given a bucket of chaulk to mark down the names of kids they have ruined for life. There was much physical and mental abuse by the preists, and who knows how many nuns have had their thrills from so many innocent children as well over the years.

    One cannot tar all preists with the brush of wrong doings as there are many respectable preists who have done so much for society. Those who took advantage of the children were mentally disturbed and were caught in their acts and placed on security wards in mental Institutions. There are others who may be hiding in fear behind that kind and caring smile?

    Only God knows what sexual acts so many disturbed preists have acted upon, and we all hope if there are others who are hiding behind the comfortble domains of the church , in convents, or during retreats, to seek help..

    The church should pay their debts to those who suffered, and the community should not have to pay the church back through the collection plate or contributions. It should also be made known as to how much the lawyers representing those children are receiving.
    The lawyers have done a good job in helping those who have been treated so unjustly.

    Frank Blackwood
    Richmond Hill, Ont

  • Carolyn
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Ignore the drivel above about anti-Catholicism in the US being the motive for filing lawsuits about the sexual abuse of minors. That argument is the refuge of those who have not sat with survivors and watched what they endure when seeking justice.

    So, Bishop Douglas Crosbie has abandoned efforts to make full payment, for which he gave his WORD. That should make clear what a bishop's word is worth.

    Crosbie strains the gnats of procedure, and jurisdiction, and technicality, and interpretation, while swallowing the camel of injustice. Get away with whatever is possible, knowing survivors lack the resources to continue the effort.

    He is a disgrace to his office, and to himself. I wonder if he is proud of his clever maneuvering, the heavy burdens he creates for those who suffer.

    To the survivors of Fr. Kevin Bennett, and their lawyer, Greg Stack: thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to pursue the truth, and hold the church accountable. We believe and embrace you.

    It is because of your strength in coming forward that our children are safer today. You claimed your power. Hold your heads high.

  • sandy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    how is the Church gettin away with this?....the atrocities committed onto these innocents are atrocities committed onto each one of us, onto very humanity.

  • J.J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Kevin Bennett ,hopefully will one day rot in hell.I survived an attack by this priest.I did not seek compensation tho I applaud the people who did.There were many people in the know back then but kept things quiet.I told many adults, who in turn told me that this guy was a holy priest and I should be ashamed to say such things.The catholic church and Kevin Bennett had so much control that today it is hard to understand why.When I think back,the fear that I felt back then,still is so fresh and strong.
    I believe in god but have no time for organized religion.I just like to add that I am glad that my parents went to their grave not knowing that such acts were being committed by priests like Kevin Bennett.At least their beliefs weren't shattered.

  • chico
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    If I understand this right. Greg Stack has failed to pursue the legalities on behalf of the victims. giving the decision by the church on refusing to stand by thier original agreement can now be directly pursued by the victims themselves. Great, now I personally know a few more victims that will be laubching another legal battle.

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    the catholic church is a fraud.the priests are still out smooth talking old ladies into leaving part of if not all of their inheritance to the church if not the priest himself. god what christians

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I would be ashamed to tell anyone that I was Catholic. Power, greed and pervertiveness seem to be the main ingredients.

  • WTF
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    I guess the only winner in this disgusting affair is the lawyers.

  • john
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    The Catholic Church as a whole is not innocent in all of this. The were aware, for years that there were issues and attempted to make problems go away by reassignment of priests. Being that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations in the world in land holdings it would go a long way to make ammends by making payment to the victems once compensation has been established through the courts.

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Thank you to Catholic Church/Priests for accepting responsibility that they afflicted on innocent boys. I can't fathom why catholics can sit in church and listen to these sick people. I guess it takes a sick person to believe another one!!!

  • Robert
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    So 40 people get to share $12 million? Over what period of time and when did these abuses occur?
    Here in the states, child abuse in the public schools runs at 300% higher than in the Catholic Church, but only Catholics are pursued going back 50 years. All other organizations and governments have a 7 year limitation. The Catholic-bashing in America is rampant.

  • villegirl
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    I am not defending the priests.. and or catholics.. I am catholic.. by baptism that is.. but I will tell you right now.. its not just priests out there that are sexually expoiting young childring.. It goes on everyone.. in every town, and by all walks of life.. yes.. it did happen to many kids by alot of preists.. but you can't say all priests are the same.. just like you can't say all cops are bad.. some people just give the good ones a bad name..

    However.. I do agree.. The ones that do harm children.. like father bennett.. should pay for their sins.. Spend a lifetime in their own confessional booth repenting for the years of suffering they have caused.

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Don from NL I am a lapsed Christian/Catholic raised in Mount Cashel Orphanage but sir I feel your comments about 'it takes a sick mind to listen to one' smacks of religious bigotry. Other christian denominations as well as jews, muslim, buddihists, hindi, the lot, have all had their deviant preachers. There are people who need 'a' church environment for whatever reason and it is hurtful to express views such as yours about their participation in the church of their choice. Hate the sin not the sinner....Pat Williams

  • Maureen
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I can't believe the church is getting away with this. We should all bring them to their holy little knees, and put them out of business for good.

  • Manny
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I wonder how many sick people believe Don.

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Priests are nymphs.