The Christian Brothers, a worldwide Roman Catholic order that runs schools and orphanages, has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a string of high-profile sexual abuse lawsuits in Ireland and the United States. It is likely that there are more victims of abuse who have yet to come forward. If the bankruptcy goes forward, people who were sexually abused by the Christian Brothers may have a limited amount of time before they can file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their injuries. If you or someone you know is the victim of a child molester, contact a lawyer today. You may be entitled to significant compensation.
What are the Christian Brothers?
The Christian Brothers (also known as the Irish Christian Brothers) are a religious community within the Catholic Church. Their purpose is mainly to teach and evangelize young children, through a network of boarding schools, orphanages, and schools. In North America, the institution has largely focused on the establishment of high schools. Most of the Brothers are not priests, are not ordained and cannot provide the sacraments of communion and confession.
The Christian Brothers have a long history in the United States, beginning with the first school opened in New York City in 1906. Since then, they have expanded to all corners of the country, though most of the schools are located in New York. Though there have only been lawsuits against Brothers who abused children in Seattle, there may be more throughout the country.
The organization has been accused of abusing children, hiring people who sexually abused children, hiding the sexual abuse, and allowing people who sexually abused children continued access to children by moving them to different schools. Several lawsuits against members of the Christian Brothers have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements.
It is unknown exactly how many children were sexually abused by employees of the Christian Brothers. However, it is likely that there are Brothers who have not been punished, and people who were abused as children who have not yet come forward.
As the Christian Brothers moves for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, it is possible that people who have claims may be running out of time to file for the compensation they deserve.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Christian Brothers
There have been several high-profile sexual abuse lawsuits against members of the Christian Brothers, beginning with a scandal in Ireland, followed by a scandal involving two schools in Seattle. The Christian Brothers operate schools all over the United States, and there may be more schools were abuse of children occurred.
Abuse In Ireland
- In Ireland, a report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse found that “allegations of child abuse, and particularly child sexual abuse, were a recurring and persistent problem for the Congregation.” Yet even when senior Brothers were satisfied that an accused individual had actually committed the sexual abuse against a child, he was only “encouraged to apply for a dispensation instead of having to undergo the dismissal procedure.” There were also ways to avoid dismissal — a Brother could not be dismissed unless he had committed three offenses of the same type. In some cases, Brothers who had been sexually abusing children were appointed to senior positions later in their careers. The report uncovered policies that hid abuse against children, and created an environment of fear where children who were abused were less likely to report abuse.
Abuse in the United States
- Briscoe Memorial School in Kent, WA, an orphanage and boarding school a short distance from Seattle. 13 men who said they were abused as students filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese and the Christian Brothers, which operated the school. They reached at $7 million settlement.
- O’Dea High School in Seattle, WA, a high school where several victims accused Brother Edward Courtney of abuse during the 1970s and 1980s. According to court documents, victims say that the Seattle Archdiocese and Christian Brothers knew that Courtney was abusing students wherever he taught, but instead of dismissing him or reporting the incidents to police, they instead moved him to different schools. Courtney had a long history of sexual abuse before he was hired at O’Dea. After his job was terminated in 1978, officials moved him to two other schools. He became principal of St. Alphonsus Parish School in Ballard, WA in 1979, and allegedly continued abusing children for the next decade. In 1988, he finally pleaded guilty to a felony charge of indecent liberties with a minor.
Christian Brothers File for Bankruptcy to Avoid Sexual Abuse Claims
The Christian Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 28, 2011. They have asked the bankruptcy court to establish a cut-off date for victims of sexual abuse and others to file claims against the organization. If the cut-off date is finalized, victims of sexual abuse may be left without legal remedy against the people who harmed them.
If you have been a victim of child sexual abuse and you want justice, it is vital that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
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.