Damien Memorial Sex Abuse Survivors to Be Compensated – Christian Brothers File for Bankruptcy

The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors for The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. have approved the terms and conditions of a consensual reorganization plan filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York in the Chapter 11 cases of The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.

The religious order filed for bankruptcy on April 28, 2011 and a plan has now been submitted for reorganization that includes compensation to victims of abuse and powerful non-monetary sanctions providing for additional safety within the organization.

As part of the reorganization plan, the Irish Christian Brothers have agreed to independent reviews of files and protocols.  The provincial leadership team also agrees to meet with sexual abuse survivors and release the names of multiple alleged abusers.

Damien Memorial High School

Damien Memorial High School

Some of the schools affected by the Irish Christian Brothers bankruptcy include Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu, Hawaii; Palma High School in Salinas, CA; Brother Rice High School in Chicago, IL; Leo High School in Chicago, IL; St. Laurence High School in Burbank, IL; Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, NJ and Essex High School (Bishop Francis) in East Orange, NJ.

“We’ve had a chance to work with many courageous survivors and hopefully this will bring some relief to each of those who have participated,” said Attorney Jeff Anderson of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based law office of Jeff Anderson & Associates who represents 92 survivors in the bankruptcy case. He continued, “Most importantly, it has brought to this organization a level of transparency and accountability that it has never known. We are inspired and grateful to those who have bravely stepped forward during this process and because of their actions others in the future are better protected.”

Over 400 survivors of sexual abuse are included in the group of unsecured creditors that will share in a financial settlement in excess of $16.5 million dollars, an amount that will be paid by the province and some insurance carriers.

A copy of the proposed Plan of Reorganization along with a complete list of schools and clerics associated with the Irish Christian Brothers can be found at www.christianbrotherabuse.com.

 

Two Honolulu Men File New Clergy Sex Abuse Suit

Two Honolulu men have filed new clergy sex abuse lawsuits.  They accuse a former Damien Catholic teacher of sexual abuse.  He has allegedly molested at least 12 kids in five states and a former Damien principal has also been named as predator.   A new Hawaii state law lets victims expose abusers & protect kids.

What:

Holding signs and photos of themselves when they were abused, abuse victims and their supporters will disclose a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the Honolulu Catholic diocese and a convicted predator cleric. The suit charges that a Catholic brother:

— Sexually abused two Damien Memorial School students,

— Was transferred from school to school because of abuse allegations,

— Was removed from Damien for abuse allegations, but parents and students were never informed.

They will also:

— Discuss a recent child sex abuse accusation against a former Damien principal,

— Urge victims and witnesses to report to abuse to law enforcement, not church officials, and

— Show how a landmark new Hawaii law is helping to warn parents about predators.

Where:

Outside of Damien Memorial School, 1401 Houghtailing Street (at School Street) in Honolulu

When:

Thursday, November 8 at 11:00 am

Who:

Two to three victims of child sex abuse and their supporters who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), including a California woman who is the group’s Western Regional Director and a former priest who is now one of the nation’s leading experts on the Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis.

Why:

This week, two former Damien Memorial students filed a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the Honolulu Catholic Diocese and Br. Robert Brouillette, an Irish Christian Brother and former teacher at the school.

Brother Robert Brouillette

Both men, who are still Oahu residents, charge that Brouillette sexually abused them while both were young students at the school. One victim was abused in 1984 and the other was abused in 1986. They were able to come forward and expose Brouillette because of a landmark new Hawaii law that allows victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice in the courts, no matter when the abuse occurred. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/opinion/more-time-for-justice.html?_r=0.

Separate from the lawsuit, the Irish Christian Brothers, a New York-based Catholic religious order that runs Damien, declared bankruptcy in 2011 to avoid costly and public child sex abuse civil trials. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/16904070/group-says-child-predators-worked-at-catholic-school. Both victims also filed claims against Brouillette in the bankruptcy. According to attorneys, sixteen victims from Damien have come forward as a result.

Brouillette has been accused of sexual abuse by at least a dozen victims in IL, CA, HI, AZ and MO. In 2000, he was convicted of possession of child pornography after being arrested in an internet child molestation sting. His last known address was in Missouri. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/1999_12_04_Presecky_CatholicBrother.htm

This is just the latest in a string of scandals at Damien Memorial School. Last week, a former Damien principal was forced to step down from his job in Seattle due to allegations of abuse. Br. Karl Walczak, Damien principal from 1987-1999, was accused of abuse while he was a teacher at an Irish Christian Brother school in Chicago. The alleged victim filed a claim in July, but Irish Christian Brother and Archdiocese officials did not disclose the allegations until Halloween. SNAP and parents were outraged at the delay in disclosure.
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/ODea-High-School-principal-resigns-amid-sex-abuse-allegations-176692501.html?tab=video&c=y. A lawsuit against former Damien chaplain Fr. Gerald Funcheon was filed in May. http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/561462/Lawsuit-claims-abuse-by-former-Honolulu-priest.html?nav=5031.

SNAP is urging all victims at the school to come forward and get help while they have civil rights under Hawaii’s new window legislation. The two-year law, sponsored by Senator Maile Shimabukuro, expires in 2014.

The victims are represented by Attorneys Mike Reck (714) 742-6593 and Mark Gallagher (808) 779-5012. Copies of the lawsuit will be available at the event.

Contact:

Joelle Casteix (IN HONOLULU), SNAP Western Regional Director, (949) 322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com

Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Executive Director, (314) 566-9790, snapclohessy@aol.com

 

First of What May Be Dozens of Child Sex Abuse and Cover Up Lawsuits Filed Under New Unusual Hawaii Law

The first of what may be dozens of child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits was filed yesterday under an unusual new Hawaii law.

That measure lets adults who were molested as kids take legal action even decades after the violations took place.

Fr. Gerald Funcheon

An Oahu resident and former Damien Memorial High School student sued the Diocese of Honolulu charging that he was sexually assaulted as a child by Fr. Gerald Funcheon, a Crosier priest and former Damien chaplain in 1983 and 1984. The alleged crimes happened on an overnight retreat with the cleric on the Oahu eastern shore when the victim was 13 years old.

According to public documents and the lawsuit, church officials already knew that Funcheon was abusing prescription drugs and alcohol and had allegations of inappropriate behavior with children well before he was sent to Damien. http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/documents%5CFuncheon_partial.pdf

“This is a classic case of ‘priest-dumping,'” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been abused in religious and institutional settings. “Church officials knew that Funcheon was a predator, but still gave him complete access to vulnerable kids. They also made sure that Funcheon was sent far away, to escape prosecution and deny his victims justice. You can’t get much further away from mainland law enforcement than Hawaii.”

The victim first came forward as a part of the Irish Christian Brothers bankruptcy. The bankruptcy allowed sex abuse victims at all Irish Christian Brothers schools—including Damien Memorial—until August 1, 2012 to come forward and expose their abusers.  At least five molesting clerics worked at the school. http://www.k5thehometeam.com/story/16904070/group-says-child-predators-worked-at-catholic-school?clienttype=mobile

“We never would have learned about Funcheon and other child molesters who worked at Damien if brave victims had not come forward under the bankruptcy and the civil window,” Casteix said. “The diocese didn’t warn parents about the gross risk and did nothing to protect kids.”

Two Funcheon victims have come forward from Palma School in Salinas, CA, where Funcheon was immediately sent after allegations came forward at Damien. Both have filed lawsuits against the Crosiers. http://www.montereyherald.com/ci_20611521/palma-alumnus-alleges-abuse-reaches-out-other-possible?source=most_viewed.  More than a dozen victims from across the country have alleged that Funcheon sexually abused them.http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-F.html

According to Funcheon’s personnel file, the priest was removed and sent to California when a parent alleged that Funcheon was abusing kids at Damien. According to the documents, the cleric also worked in numerous Honolulu-area parishes during the weekends. The documents may be viewed here: http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/documents%5CFuncheon_partial.pdf

“This cover-up and reckless disregard for child safety should be a wake-up call to parents across Hawaii,” Casteix said. “Instead of calling the cops and getting help for the kids who were hurt, officials at Damien and the Honolulu Diocese silenced victims and spirited Funcheon out of town. That kind of cover-up is criminal.  We hope this lawsuit shines a bright light on sneaky, back-handed tactics that protected predators instead of kids.”

Funcheon’s last known address was a church-run facility in Missouri, where he apparently lived with Robert Brouillette, an Irish Christian Brother and former Damien teacher who was convicted of child pornography in 2000. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/1999_12_04_Presecky_CatholicBrother.htm

“Our experience has shown us time and time again that although church officials claim that these facilities are ‘secure’ and ‘monitored,’ that’s just not true,” said Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s Outreach Director.  “Funcheon may be just as free to hurt children now as he was in Hawaii, California and the other states where he abused kids.”

Casteix also says that the civil window is an anti-crime measure that will help keep kids safe right now. “Soon, we will learn what the diocese knew and when they knew it. We also hope that younger victims will find the strength to come forward and report, so that law enforcement can make arrests and get convictions.”

In California and Delaware, civil window laws exposed hundreds of predators and help law enforcement put predators behind bars. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_12_04_Spano_ExPriest.htm

The victim is represented by Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson (651) 227-9990, jeff@andersonadvocates.com; and California attorney Mike Reck (714) 742-6593, mreck@andersonadvocates.com. Copies of the lawsuit are available on the website  http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/Hawaii_Abuse_News.aspx

The new law, Act 068, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on April 24, 2012 gives victims of child sex abuse a two-year “window” to use the civil courts to expose their perpetrators and those who may have ignored or concealed the crimes.

The lawsuit was filed in the First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii, and seeks unspecified damages.