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Christian Brothers Files For Bankruptcy Amid Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

On April 28, 2011, the Congregation of Christian Brothers in North America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. Most of the cases come from two schools in the Seattle area, where settlements have grown beyond $25 million. The organization is seeking a cut-off date that would limit the number of sexual abuse cases that people can bring against the Brothers, thus shielding its fiscal assets in Rome. If you or someone you know was physically or sexually abused by an employee of the Christian Brothers, contact a lawyer today. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

The Christian Brothers organization has been accused of employing people who have engaged in raping, molesting, and beating children, and then hiding the evidence and failing to protect children from continued abuse. Advocates for the abused say that this move for bankruptcy is yet another attempt to avoid responsibility by preventing future claims against the organization, and by shielding vast financial resources in Rome.

The Christian Brothers organization is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When an organization has debts that it cannot pay, it can file for bankruptcy. There are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a business ceases operation and liquidates its assets, and the money earned from selling the assets goes toward paying its debts. In Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business remains in control of its business, and is permitted to “reorganize.” Chapter 11 may be granted when a court determines that the business is worth more to its creditors if it is restructured, rather than liquidated.

Amid a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic church and other organizations where adults have contact with children, the Christian Brothers become the second Catholic order in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy as a result of a sexual abuse lawsuit. The other organization is the Jesuits in the Northwest, which declared bankruptcy in 2009. The Jesuits faced roughly 200 claims of child abuse. In contrast, the Christian Brothers number only 250 Brothers in the U.S. and Canada, and face an estimated 50 lawsuits.

Several cases brought against the Christian Brothers in Seattle involve Edward Courtney, a man who taught at O’Dea High School in Seattle. Following numerous reports of sexual abuse against children, the Christian Brothers hid the evidence and transferred Courtney from O’Dea to other schools. He became principal of St. Alphonsus School in Seattle. He has since been convicted of a felony and his victims have received millions in compensation.

Another scandal involving the Christian Brothers involves a school near Seattle, where dozens of men have come forward to say that they were sexually abused, physically abused, beaten severely with leather straps, fists, and wooden paddles while they were naked in the shower. There are also reports of boys being taken from their beds at night, being accosted in bathrooms, and being forced to engage in oral sex. 50 cases against the Christian Brothers in Seattle have settled for $25.6 million.

The Catholic Brothers are originally an Irish organization, running hundreds of boarding schools, reformatories, orphanages, and schools. Recently, many of these school came under fire when advocates for victims of child abuse published a report that found rampant sexual and physical abuse of children. Abuse scandals have gripped the organization in Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the U.S., suggesting that abuse of children is widespread in the organization. It is possible that many victims have not yet come forward.

We Can Help – Christian Brothers Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

There are over 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today. One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. And, one out of every five children will be solicited for sexual abuse on the internet. In most cases, the victims of childhood sexual abuse do not report the abuse at all or don’t report it until many years after the abuse happens.

While there are many legal barriers to prosecuting the sexual predators that inflict this abuse, our lawyers have worked to overcome those barriers in the Legislature and in the courts. Senator Martha Escutia (Ret.) and Senator Joseph Dunn (Ret.) were heavily involved in passing California legislation that significantly increased the time for victims of abuse to sue their sexual predators and those that employed the sexual predators. This new legislation allowed literally thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits (and receive significant recoveries) that were otherwise barred by the former statute of limitations.

The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP, has further committed itself to protecting victims of childhood sexual abuse by relentlessly pursuing sexual predators in court. The Firm is actively involved in representing clients who have been abused by predators in a variety of settings, including churches, youth organizations, schools, and in the home. If you or someone close to you has been sexually abused, The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP, can provide experienced, effective, and compassionate representation to ensure that your rights to compensation are fully protected.

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