Ex-Crespi Carmelite student gets 5-figure settlement for alleged sexual abuse
By Brenda Gazzar
Los Angeles Daily News
March 28, 2016
|Allan Bruce, 47, of Massachusetts, who alleges he was abused by a religious brother at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino in the 1980s, received a “six figure settlement” from the Carmelite Fathers and Brothers last year. The settlement was made public, along with 15 other such settlements in the last year, by Bruce’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, on Monday.|
For nearly four decades, Allan Bruce said he held a closely guarded secret involving the Catholic Church.
While a student at the private Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Bruce said he was repeatedly fondled — sometimes plied with alcohol beforehand — by a religious brother from 1984 to 1986. Bruce, then a Saugus resident, claims Brother Damien Chong sexually abused him at least 30 times in his quarters after inviting him to sleep there after football practice.
“I think the betrayal was the hardest part; he was supposed to be my friend and look after me and that wasn’t what happened,” the 47-year-old Bruce, who lives in Massachusetts, said by phone Monday. “I didn’t tell my parents or anybody. One, I didn’t think they would believe me and two, the school probably wouldn’t believe me either. I was just a C student from Saugus.”
Bruce was awarded a five-figure out-of-court settlement against the Carmelite Fathers and Brothers religious order last March involving the late Brother Chong — one of 16 Catholic priests, religious brothers, nuns or employees nationwide accused of alleged sexual abuse in which settlements were reached in the last few years and made public on Monday. The exact amount of Bruce’s settlement was not disclosed.
The names of the alleged perpetrators, who were at the heart of settlements totaling more than $1 million, were released by attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian was made famous by the movie “Spotlight,” which won the Oscar for best picture in February, about the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into clergy child abuse.
“Allan Bruce has empowered himself, other sexual abuse victims and made the world a safer place for children,” Garabedian said Monday.
The Carmelite Fathers and Brothers did not respond to an email request for comment late Monday. The settlement does not admit any liability by the order nor did officials offer an apology, something Garabedian called “standard operating procedure” on the part of the church.
Garabedian’s list, which he started compiling in January 2011, now has a total of 173 Catholic priests and other religious staff accused of sexual abuse around the country from 1938 to 1988. He said all 173 of the alleged perpetrators listed in his database have been found to have had “credible and substantiated sexual abuse claims against them” and all have been involved in settlements. The youngest victim, he said, was 9 years old at the time.
Some of the priests and other staff named have had one claim against them, while others had dozens of claims or demand letters. One late priest, Father John J. Geoghan, who worked for the Archdiocese of Boston, had as many as 146 claims against him, he said.
Because it was too late to file a lawsuit against the Carmelite Fathers and Brothers in Bruce’s case, Garabedian said he sent a demand letter more than two years ago asking that Bruce be compensated for intentional infliction of emotional distress by Chong and negligent supervision by his supervisors. The two sides entered into mediation and resolved the case last March, he said.
Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that the Chicago-based Carmelite order and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley have never explained why they let Chong “quietly work at a Massachusetts mall” until 2014 — the year he died — despite an admission by Catholic officials that Chong was “credibly accused” of child sex crimes.
Another of the 16 alleged perpetrators named Monday, Richard T. Coughlin, went from the Archdiocese of Boston to the Diocese of Orange in Southern California and set up the All American Boys Chorus after allegedly abusing boys in Massachusetts. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has said that at least five people have accused Coughlin of abuse, according to documents at BishopAccountability.org.
“We hope these settlements will provide some comfort to the victims of these predators and will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover-ups and start healing,” Dorris said.
Meanwhile, Bruce called his settlement “a pittance” but said he needed help with his medical bills, marriage counseling and anger issues prompted by the abuse.
“I wanted an apology,” Bruce said. “I wanted Brother Damien away from the kids and with no access to the Internet.”