Amanda Banks at the West Australian tells us how the Catholic church in Western Australia dealt with abuse victims. With generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends? No. With self-interested self-protective fighting and coercion.
The Catholic Church and Christian Brothers fought a class action by abuse victims from WA orphanages at every turn, using their strong legal position to open settlement negotiations with the offer that the men pay their costs.
By “the men” she means the abuse victims – so the church opened negotiations by demanding that the victims pay the church’s costs. The victimizer opened negotiations with a demand that the victims pay costs.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Hayden Stephens has told the royal commission public hearing in Perth this morning of the uphill battle faced by hundreds of men who signed retainers for the national law firm to take on the class action.
Mr Stephens said while a trust of $3.5 million was eventually settled in 1996 after a three-year legal stoush, the Christian Brothers made it clear from the outset that under no circumstances would any agreement be seen to be a payment of compensation to victims.
So much for generosity and remorse and eagerness to make amends.
“Although this amount does not fairly reflect the suffering that these men suffered and experienced at these institutions, it was the best we could achieve,” Mr Hayden told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“To be blunt, the trustees of the Christian Brothers had their knee on our client’s throat and there was little opportunity for our clients to flex their negotiation muscle, or us on their behalf, with the judicial decisions that had preceded the negotiations.”
See? They’re like anyone else. They look out for themselves, like anyone else. They’re not better than other people. Their religion doesn’t make them good.
The first three days of the hearing were dominated by evidence of 11 former residents of the Christian Brothers’ Bindoon, Tardun, Castledare and Clontarf orphanages.
The men each gave harrowing accounts of sexual, physical and mental abuse, as well as neglect and cruelty, at the hands of the brothers who had been entrusted with their care.
Some of them men have also expressed feeling demeaned and insulted by the class action process, which in some cases resulted in payouts of as a little as $2000.
They’re just racketeers, the men who run the Catholic church. Don’t let them fool you.