Compensation amount decided in last year’s Mount Cashel settlement

Barb Sweet bsweet@thetelegram.com
Published on February 20, 2014
The Mount Cashel orphanage, 1989
— Telegram file photo

Compensation amounts have now been decided in a settlement reached last year for individual victims of abuse that include former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage.

The settlement includes a $16.5-million cash payment from the Catholic lay order, the Irish Christian Brothers and one of its insurers and affects more than 420 men and women in the U.S. and Canada who say they were molested as children by members of the Christian Brothers.

The new development is that a retired judge has decided how the money will be distributed to the claimants, about two thirds of whom are in the U.S., said lawyer Geoff Budden.

Most of the Mount Cashel claimants involved were residents of the orphanage prior to the early 1960s, when the American branch of the Christian Brothers withdrew from the Torbay Road, St. John’s facility.

The victims will receive their money within two or three weeks and the payouts range in amount, depending on such criteria as the type and extent of the abuse and the impact on the victim’s life. The minimum payout is $5,000.

“Nobody is getting the compensation I believe they would be entitled to, but it’s a limited pot, therefore it’s only viewed as partial compensation,” Budden said this morning.

“I think there is satisfaction from the guys I have spoken to. Nobody, including the courts that administered this, is suggesting this is adequate and full compensation, but there is only so much money there. That’s the nature of a bankruptcy.”

There is also a small pot of money coming from a couple of properties involved in the settlement that have not yet been sold.

Budden represents some 90 clients involved in the settlement, which was announced last year and affects some 160 local victims of sexual abuse, mostly residents of the former Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's. Some 10 per cent of the victims were other school children.

When reached last spring, a victims’ committee appointed by the U.S. Justice Department and including three Canadians, 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).

It’s not the end of the Mount Cashel saga — victims continue to seek full compensation through actions against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St John’s.

The boys’ orphanage was closed in 1990 and the building demolished in 1992.