The Telegram via the Chronicle Herald
January 14, 2021
By Barb Sweet
Even if the monumental decision had gone the other way Thursday for the now elderly victims of sexual assault at the former Mount Cashel orphanage, one John Doe said he would have felt they gave it their best shot.
But instead there was lightness for him that the fight was finally done, and victory was theirs at last.
When the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday refused to grant the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s leave to appeal a civil decision that held it responsible for sexual abuse suffered by boys at the infamous Christian-Brothers-run orphanage during the 1950s and early ‘60s, the retired educator was elated and grateful to the lawyer who had fought for the victims for more than 20 years.
“They were terrific, absolutely terrific. He is absolutely magnificent. (The firm was) always on a mission and they treated us with so much understanding and humanity,” the man said of St. John’s lawyer Geoff Budden. “I am happy for all the boys, the victims.”
The man was one of four John Doe plaintiffs in the case, which represented about 60 clients in total. One of the man’s four brothers who were also victims of abuse died before the decision came out, as did one of the four John Does.
“I am sad for those who have passed away or are no longer with us,” said the retired educator. “(But) it’s a great day for everybody all around, except for the church. They are facing up to their demons.”
The retired educator said the Christian Brothers who abused the boys likely saw them as non-entities.
“And maybe we ourselves began to feel that way,” he said of the repercussions.
The leave to appeal was dismissed with costs by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We won,” Budden said moments after hearing of the decision late Thursday morning.
“I feel it’s a tough day for the archdiocese. I feel joy for the clients. I feel relief that we delivered the results for our clients. … And I feel sad for those who didn’t live to see this day.”
Budden reflected on the long road that he began in 1998 but was resolute the day would finally come. There are no more legal challenges for the church to fight against the victims.
“Isn’t that nice. It took a long enough time, eh,” said another of the John Does, who is retired from the military.
“I was determined to myself I would be damned if I would die before a decision would be made. It’s a big relief. It’s over now.”
The man said religion was drilled into them every day and they couldn’t understand how to even begin to deal with the sexual abuse when it happened, since they saw the Christian Brothers as father figures.
“It’s only recently, actually, that I was thinking about how screwed up things got, because life was life. That was my life. I didn’t know,” he said.
He said he tried to make the best out of his situation once he left the orphanage.
“I consider myself pretty lucky, actually — if I hadn’t joined the army…,” the man said.
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