Christian Brothers Deny Dodging Sex Abuse Compensation
By Charlotte King
March 31, 2016
|PHOTO: Ron Kochskamper as a student at St Alipius Boys School in Ballarat. (Supplied: Ron Kochskamper)|
The Christian Brothers religious order has refuted allegations it is dodging compensation claims from former sex abuse victims.
The order said it had paid over $20 million in compensation through litigation in the last year.
A former student from the St Alipius boys school in Ballarat and his lawyer accused the order of using smoke and mirrors tactics to avoid paying compensation for past abuse.
The survivor, Ron Kochskamper, and his lawyer, Vivian Waller, complained that Christian Brothers were not willing to back a defendant they provided to be sued — Brother Robert Best — with their assets, making it impossible for victims to achieve adequate compensation.
The order has now confirmed that Mr Kochskamper will be provided with a trustee so that legal action can go forward, and this trustee will be financially backed.
Ms Waller confirmed the Christian Brothers have clarified their stance.
"In Mr Koschkamper's matter they now agree that the Trustees of the Christian Brothers can be named as a defendant in place of Brother Best," she said.
She said she was pleased the matter had been resolved.
"This is an extremely helpful development," she said.
"It assists my client to argue that the school, through the action or inaction of the principal, was negligent.
"It also helps to create a level playing field at forthcoming settlement discussions, knowing that litigation is now a realistic option should the matter not resolve."
The order said it had resolved 205 claims of historical abuse in the last year alone, with payments exceeding $20 million.
It said it would continue to provide legal entities, which are backed by assets, to enable abuse victims to sue for negligence.
Ms Waller said her client, Mr Kochskamper, was "relieved and encouraged" by the steps taken by the Christian Brothers actions.