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Editorial: The pain endures

["The Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's. The building was torn down in 1992."]
Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s, torn down in 1992. — Telegram file photo

Maybe you didn’t read it closely.

Maybe you shuddered and put the newspaper down — or closed the story on your computer — when you saw the details of abuse a man suing the province says he received both in foster care and at the Mount Cashel orphanage.

Maybe you thought that the $300,000 the unidentified man received was a fair trade for a normal childhood, and quickly moved on to the next story.

You might not have gotten to this part, where Justice Minister Andrew Parsons talked about ongoing Mount Cashel litigation: “Parsons estimates 74 similar cases relating to childhood sexual or physical abuse cases are currently ongoing at some stage in the courts. ‘We’re still dealing with the fallout of this tragedy,’ Parsons said.”

Think about that — 74 similar cases.

The orphanage was torn down in 1992, 26 years ago.

The sexual abuse of children, not only at Mount Cashel, will continue to damage the lives of adults, and will radiate outwards to destroy the childhoods of even more people.

It has been physically erased for so long that some people shopping in the grocery store now on the property don’t even know the orphanage was there. And still, there are active lawsuits that the province has not managed to conclude.

“The details in all of them are generally horrid. Some are more horrific than others. When it comes to sexual abuse cases, there’s no limitations so you must deal with them. We have liability in many cases. We have a responsibility to deal with them,” Parsons said Tuesday.

Parsons did point out that there is far more than money involved with public court actions.

“If there’s any silver lining, when there is some publicity of any sort on this, if that gives someone the confidence that they can come forward and share their story, then that’s a positive thing to me,” he said. “In many cases, that’s how you help aid in your healing and recovery, is by talking about it.”

The province has paid out $30 million in settlements so far, hardly a satisfactory amount for everything that was taken from the victims.

But the damage doesn’t end there.

Follow criminal cases involving sexual abuse and a stark fact jumps out at you: many who are convicted of sexually assaulting children reveal that, in their childhoods, they were abused as well. Many, many victims manage to escape from the hell that was an abusive childhood, moving on to live completely normal lives. Those who can should be applauded for their bravery, their strength, and their resilience.

For others, though, a gruesome history winds up repeating itself. And repeating itself.

Mount Cashel tore holes in many childhoods.

The sexual abuse of children, not only at Mount Cashel, will continue to damage the lives of adults, and will radiate outwards to destroy the childhoods of even more people.

This story doesn’t end, no matter how much the horrendous details may make you want to simply turn away.

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