Nuns Give Gifts to Sex Abuse Claimants

Catholic News [New Zealand]
Downloaded January 1, 2004

Nuns have donated cars, overseas trips, home appliances and other gifts to victims who claim they were abused as children in two New Zealand orphanages.

The gifts are part of an undisclosed settlement reached by the Sisters of Nazareth with 17 complainants who allege physical and sexual abuse while in the nuns' care at Nazareth House and St Joseph's home in Christchurch. The complaints span from the 1930s to the 1960s.

14 women and three men confronted the sisters, who were visiting from Australia, in a two-week mediation which ended last month.

Lawyers continued to negotiate compensation until a settlement was reached. Claimants have received apologies for their "unhappy experiences" under the sisters' care, as well as gifts.

The nuns, whose charity work in Christchurch dates back nearly 100 years, are not disclosing what the total package is worth. Unlike the St John of God Order which has been offering big cash payouts for historic abuse complaints, the nuns' allocations were made on a needs basis.

Some claimants had their mortgages and other debts repaid. One woman asked for a new kitchen. A fund was set up to cover future medical expenses as the claimants age.

A joint statement issued today by the nuns' lawyers, Saunders Robinson, and solicitors for the claimants, said the mediation was "beneficial for all concerned.

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