Sexual abuse by Christian brothers, clergy, etc.
Abuse at Christian Brothers' schools in Ontario
Abuse at Christian Brothers' schools in Ontario:
Allegations surfaced in the 1980s of widespread sexual abuse at two Ontario
schools operated by separate Roman Catholic orders during the 1940s, 1950s and
St. Joseph's Training School for Boys, in Alfred, ON, which
was operated by the Christian Schools of Ottawa, and
St. John's Training School for Boys, in Uxbridge, ON which
was operated by the Toronto Christian Brothers.
The Ontario Provincial Police conducted an investigation in 1990 and
laid 200 charges against 30 Christian Brothers (one source says 28 Brothers plus
one employee). Counts ranged from "assault causing bodily harm to indecent
assault and sodomy." 1 There would have been more
charges, except that some of the Brothers had already died. "Archival
documents showed that provincial officials had quietly investigated a raft of
allegations of abuse at the schools, but never alerted police or prosecuted
school staff." 2 Eventually, 700 former students came
forward to allege abuse. About 400 organized a mutual support group, Helpline.
Rather than pursue their legal options, they decided to seek mediation. They
perceived that this offered a number of advantages:
It avoids the adversarial process of conventional litigation, with
its emotional and financial costs.
It allows for a broader, more creative range of solutions than are
possible in a legal settlement.
Past relationships have a chance of being preserved -- particularly
those between the student victims and their church.
Successful mediation can empower the victims.
Mediation is perceived as being more cost effective.
In 1992, they were able to reach an agreement with the Brothers of the
Christian Schools of Ottawa, the Government of Ontario, the [Roman
Catholic] Archdiocese of Ottawa, and the [Roman Catholic] Archdiocese of
Toronto, which involved:
Facilitation of apologies by those responsible for physical and
Financial compensation for pain and suffering.
Financial advances for "medical / dental services, vocational
rehabilitation, educational upgrading and literacy training."
Provision of counseling services.
Payment to ex-students who had not been paid for farm work and
menial work while they were at the schools.
A commitment by the participants to work towards "the eradication
of child abuse."
Implementation of the agreement started in 1993-JAN. The financial settlement
totaled $23 million. Amounts paid to the victims ranged from $2,500 to $107,944.
Of all of the claimants, 97% were validated. The Toronto Christian Brothers,
operators of the Uxbridge school, contributed $3 million, "but refused to
sign the agreement, its lawyer calling the demand for money 'blackmail.' " 3 One hundred percent of the victims of the Alfred school voted to
share their compensation equally with the ex-students of the Uxbridge schools.
In return, the Alfred students were to receive a share of any future settlements
received by Uxbridge victims. On 2002-JAN, a class-action suit was filed by
David McCann, president of Helpline, against the Toronto Christian Brothers,
alleging that they committed a breach of trust by paying some of the Uxbridge
victims directly rather than assuring that the money was shared with the Alfred
One part of the settlement, agreed to by the Province of Ontario's representative, stated "that the premier was to propose an all-party
resolution in the legislature, apologizing for and condemning the abuse." In
spite of requests from Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, and Senator
Doug Roche, the head of the reconciliation committee, the then Ontario Premier Mike
Harris refused to implement the agreement. 2 Instead, while he
was out of town on 1996-JUN-25, he had the Attorney General of Ontario deliver
an apology in the legislature on behalf of the people of Ontario. 4 The subsequent resolution was passed unanimously by the legislature, and was followed by a minute of silence.
Almost four years later, on 2000-MAR-21, Harris commented to reporters: "Of
course I apologize. I apologize as an Ontarian, as premier, as an individual."
David McCann, an ex-student of the Alfred school sued Harris over the
Conflict Resolution Network Canada5 maintains a
website which contains has a very complete description of the mediation process.
It could be an excellent model for other groups of victims of clergy abuse who
are weighing their options of whether to pursue resolution by mediation or
through the courts.
The following information sources were used to prepare the first draft of this essay back in 2001. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Goldie M. Shea, "Institutional Child Abuse in Canada: Redress
Programs Relating to Institutional Child Abuse in Canada: "6. Ontario -
St. John's and St. Joseph's - The Helpline Agreement," Law
Commission of Canada, at: http://www.lcc.gc.ca/en/themes/mr/ica/