New settlement includes Mount Cashel victims

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Barb Sweet
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Former Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's. — Telegram file photo

A new settlement has been reached with the Catholic lay order, the Irish Christian Brothers, that affects 160 victims of sexual abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's.

The 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.

Geoff Budden of Budden, Morris Law Offices in Mount Pearl, who represents 90 former Mount Cashel residents, said it will take several months for the allocations to be worked out and eligible victims to receive cheques.

The plan will still require a majority vote of all the claimants, but a select committee has approved it.

Clients can continue with claims

The settlement does not prevent any of the Mount Cashel clients from continuing their claims against the Catholic archdiocese of St. John's, nor the U.S. victims from pursuing action against Catholic organizations there.

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, and Budden deemed Thursday's announcement an important one for them.

The 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, said James Stang of Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl & Jones, counsel to the official committee of unsecured creditors for The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

The committee involved seven representative victims appointed by the U.S. Justice Department, although three of the men were Canadian abuse victims, Stang said.

According to Stang, ownership of the high school in the Bronx was transferred years ago in an attempt to protect it and he credited Budden with uncovering documentation Stang believes will result in that property being handed over to the creditors.

Budden's firm participated with several U.S. law firms in mediation presided over by Judge Elizabeth Stong of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Stang expects everything will be resolved within two years on those outstanding matters and said the settlement also allows the Christian Brothers, now in dwindling numbers, to go on.

"The brothers now have the opportunity to tell themselves and tell their alumni they have reached what we think is a fair settlement - not enough, but fair in terms of the assets," Stang said.

Stang said he's open to hearing from the archdiocese if it wants to now settle claims against that entity.

As for the settlement announced Thursday, the committee has approved the 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. (In the United States, the Christian Brothers are the civil arms of the North American Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of Ireland).

In response to sexual abuse claims, the Christian Brothers filed Chapter 11 cases on April 28, 2011 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. During the course of the Chapter 11 cases, more than 400 survivors of sexual and physical abuse filed claims with the Bankruptcy Court. The claims generally arise from the Christian Brothers' operation/staffing of schools and child-care facilities from 17 U.S. states and Canada.

The reorganization plan, which the parties anticipate will be filed within the next three weeks, provides for steps by the Christian Brothers which the committee said it believes will safeguard children from future abuse.

Stang said claimants will receive notices within 45-60 days and the plan will require the acceptance vote of two thirds of the clients.

Then there will be a procedure worked out to assess how the money is distributed.

St. John's lawyer Richard Rogers, who represents seven clients among the 160 Mount Cashel claims said he learned of the proposed settlement Thursday.

"Definitely this is good news," he said, adding it allows victims who didn't fall in the timeframe that the provincial government compensated to obtain closure.

"It's a very positive thing that probably would not have happened if we had gone to court."

According to a statement from a spokesman for the Christian Brothers based in New Rochelle, N.Y., prior to filing for Chapter 11, the order had been operating at an annual seven-figure deficit, including mounting legal costs involving lawsuits, particularly in Seattle, Washington and St. John's.

In the statement from the Christian Brothers and Christian Brothers of Ireland, Brother Kevin Griffith, deputy leader of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American Province, said that the Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings have been imperative to the healing and reconciliation process.

"Intense negotiations during the past three months have led to painful concessions in bringing about this mutually agreed upon settlement. This settlement will allow an opportunity to recommit ourselves to bringing the gospel of Jesus and the charism of our founder, blessed Edmund Rice, to those we serve. The protection of children must remain the highest of priorities in creating safe environments at our ministry sites and in our communities. Let us continue to pray for all those affected by child sexual abuse and ask the Lord for healing and reconciliation," Griffith said.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Christian Brothers Institute, North American, U.S. Justice Department U.S. Bankruptcy Court United States Bankruptcy Court

Geographic location: Mount Cashel, United States, St. John's Canada Bronx Mount Pearl New York New Rochelle, N.Y. Seattle, Washington

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Recent comments

  • JC
    April 25, 2014 - 12:36

    My friend was a victim of the Christian Brothers, in Mount Cashel NF. He is not well, emotional, physically, and spiritually. I do not know what to do for him anymore. I see him dying inside/out. After the orphanage, he lived on the streets of Toronto for a few years. Is there a support group or funding to go back to school for the victims of this disgusting event?? Thanks JC

  • Fred foley
    October 08, 2013 - 14:26

    No gains yet no apologies .now october another year gone . No reporters ccovering any followup ,.still nothing for any one yet.

  • Fred foley
    October 08, 2013 - 14:22

    It is now october . Almost another year gone and no apology or financial gains. The big question now is when, when, when? Have your reports and reporters give up on this?

  • mark
    June 11, 2013 - 12:18

    I am 42 years old now and my life is still Affected by the abuse i cant wait for the day when i stop being a victim of these horrible crimes committed against us as children i wish for my innocence back daily i went through a divorce because i couldn't be the man i wanted to be but i thank god i never was violent with my children and i do thank god for the innocent Christian brothers that did make life better after they closed Mount Cashel.May god bless all those who did help us recover from this and our loved ones and hero's counsellors please fight for your life and don't allow this pain to destroy you.you deserve a great life to all the abuse victims who read this fight you are worth it. i love and pray for you all daily.

  • Richard Kearney
    May 25, 2013 - 09:53

    You dewell on sexual abuse, however physical abuse is what Boys endured for up to 10 consecutive years daily yes daily.A teacher 250 lbs wheeling a leather strap on children 40,50 ,60 lbs..Afraid to go to sleep wondering what will happen tomorrow.Who do you tell ;there is no mother or father; so I prayed to God that I wouldn't be strapped the next day.We lived with men,(of god) who had total control and answered to no man or god.

  • Alana
    May 24, 2013 - 20:48

    what about the victims victims? how many more generations will be destroyed because of what was done here?

  • elizabeth
    May 24, 2013 - 14:27

    What about the victims of the victims? what about us!!! the abuse didn't stop with the boys attending the orphanage.

  • THE LIFE I LOST
    May 24, 2013 - 13:59

    My dad passed away 1955, that's when all HELL broke loose for me. I was shipped off to Mt Cashel Orphange ST Johns, NL, Me and my Nufie brothers you know who you are, God love you all, for what we endured. Is there forgiveness in your heart? I will have to pass on that for now. I ran away from that place and told the Black Mariah what was happening to me and all they did was take me back to that place of Hell. When I was returned I was beaten to the point that I had to be Hospitalized. After they came and took me back to Mt. Cashel The teachers took me to the room and for those of us who were taken to that room know what happen next. I still cry for THE LIFE I LOST

  • saelcove
    May 24, 2013 - 11:14

    Police are nothing but government robots programmed to obey there master

    • Mary
      May 24, 2013 - 13:17

      For this to go on so long,I think the blame should be placed on the government of the day, I don't think you can blame the police in any way,they took the complaints and government did nothing about it,and don't forget the police are paid by government.You don't bite the hand that feeds you,I think their hands were tied. Definitely one of the darkest pages,in our history. May it never happen again.

  • James
    May 24, 2013 - 10:34

    Have to agree with Brian. And in addition it was not only the sexual abuse. As a kid attending catholic schools it the 1950's it was a regular occurrence to get strapped, punched, kicked, head knuckled, slap it the head with a book, ruler across the knuckles, getting your eye taken out with chalk and on.

    • Fairness
      May 25, 2013 - 08:52

      All schools were like this, including the Protestant ones. All (or most) homes were like this too, except the teacher was a parent and the strap was the belt or broomstick.

  • wayward son
    May 24, 2013 - 09:31

    well... do you think the Provincial governemt will come good in any kind of way..?.. If the constabulary,RCMP or social services had listened to any of these children about the abuses they were enduring maybe it would have stopped in the 50's... but they swept it under the rug... this includes the catholic school system in the province as well as Whitbourne school for boys... I know the provincial goverment has labelled all who complained as not being credible... criminals and mentally incapable... the goverment should be called to task for knowingly turning a blind eye... yes , knowingly.. there were complaints made.. yet they did nothing... hundres of innocent childrens lives were in their hands .. and they did nothing...till this day... they do nothing .. for if they did it would be a shameful blight on the image of the government... and they would be responsible...me personally...? I would be satisfied if they would grow some balls and admit they we negligent...it's not about the money... it's about being at peace...

  • Brian
    May 24, 2013 - 07:41

    You did not mention it was not only Mount Cashel. It was also schools in and around the St. John's area. How do I know? I was one of the victims and involved in the lawsuit.