Compensation amount decided in last year’s Mount Cashel settlement

Barb Sweet
Published on February 21, 2014

The sale of a property in New York State and the pursuit of a Bronx high school could add more money to a pot of compensation for abuse victims, including former residents of the Mount Cashel boys orphanage in
St. John’s.

he Telegram reported online Thursday that 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 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 judge has decided how the money will be distributed to the claimants, about two-thirds of whom are in the U.S., lawyer Geoff Budden said Thursday.

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

“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 amount of money coming from a couple of properties involved in the settlement that have not yet been sold.

Lawyer Jim Stang said the sale is being finalized on a Rochester, N.Y., high school that would net $2.5 million more in compensation. There is also $350,000 in insurance money and a small property in New York that could add up, along with the Rochester school, to around $3 million.

Stang, counsel to the official committee of unsecured creditors for The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc., said litigation continues for ownership of a Bronx high school valued at several million dollars.

The property amounts and the insurance would be added onto the $16.5 million cash pot for the more than 420 claimants.

Stang noted claimants can then pursue claims against archdioceses and school entities.

“I like to think of this as part of a bigger puzzle,” Stang said.

Budden represents about 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.

In January, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order confirming the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. and the Christian Brothers’ Institute reorganization plan.

At the time, the Brothers also apologized.

“We apologize for the difficulties that abuse survivors and their families have endured. We acknowledge and are deeply sorry for the actions perpetrated by some of our Brothers. We have reached out and met with a number of survivors of abuse to apologize and express our sorrow in person,” Brother Hugh O’Neill, Christian Brothers provincial, and Brother Kevin Griffith, deputy provincial, said in a joint statement.

“The protection of children, and creating safe environments at our ministry sites and in our communities, is our highest priority.

“Our schools and outreach ministries remain committed to the highest educational and ethical standards possible, and the good works of our Brothers will continue to have a positive influence on the youth of our society. We continue to hold in prayer the survivors of sexual abuse and hope that this settlement can bring some degree of healing and reconciliation into their lives.”