“it Will Never End for Me’

By Barb Sweet
The Telegram
December 17, 2016

Lawyer for former orphanage residents Geoff Budden (left) chats with church lawyers Chris Blom and Susan Adam Metzler at the Mount Cashel civil trial Friday.

The last days of the Mount Cashel civil trial weren’t the only ones when the sordid details of abuse were rehashed and the effects on lives debated, but they have been powerful torment for the one John Doe who has most frequently attended court.

“I thought a couple times of leaving the courtroom. I was getting aggravated,” Doe said Friday outside court of the previous day’s developments — the beginning of the church’s closing arguments on why it should not be held liable.

The case involves four test case John Does who say the Roman Catholic Church should be held liable for abuse the boys suffered at the hands of certain Irish Christian Brothers at the orphanage from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

The church’s arguments ended Friday, with Doe sitting forward on a wooden bench and listening to what he remarked later were “half-truths.”

None of the four test case John Does in the trial can be named, but this Doe, a retired teacher, has also had to wear the fact people who know him have seen him coming and going from the courthouse.

“It will be good to not be stuck out in public. I find that hard to take, too. There’s a shame comes with this you can’t shake,” he said, acknowledging he is looking forward to the end of the court proceedings for him and his family.

Some of the opposing testimony has been an eye opener, he said, as lawyers on opposing sides hash pros and cons of whether or not the church should be blamed for the abuse the former orphanage residents suffered several decades ago.

With the howling wind rattling windows, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s concluded their closing arguments late Friday.

“I am waiting for (plaintiffs lawyer) Geoff Budden and his colleagues to attack some of their reasoning,” Doe said, noting he didn’t find solace in the church making clear Thursday it empathizes with the victims.

The church insists the Christian Brothers were independent and the archdiocese was not involved in the orphanage operations, and therefore can’t be held liable for the abuse.

On Friday, Susan Adam Metzler, who also represents the Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s, said the church and the Christian Brothers were independent of each other, operating as parallel organizations that intersected only because of their shared faith.

“It is unfathomable to think liability would be imposed in such a circumstance,” she said.

Lawyers for the former orphanage residents will deliver their rebuttal Saturday morning and made their closing arguments earlier this week.

It’s not the end of the matter, though.

Justice Alphonsus Faour will not have his decision until well into 2017. And then there’s the chance of appeal by whichever side loses.

But one thing’s certain for John Doe.

“It will never end for me,” he said of trying to put behind being sexually abused by three Christian Brothers and two orphanage employees, as well as suffering horrendous physical abuse.

While discussing the case of another man — acknowledged to have been beaten about 4,500 times while at Mount Cashel in the 1950s — church lawyer Chris Blom told the court the time has passed for claims on physical abuse under the law.

An incident in which a Brother watched that John Doe as a boy shower in cold water, and made him bend down and beat him over the buttocks has been characterized by the man’s lawyers as sexual sadism. But Blom contends it wasn’t sexual in nature.

The other three men suffered sexual abuse, but Blom has countered that other factors contributed to ongoing problems in their lives, including corporal punishment that was more accepted in that day and was frequent at Mount Cashel.

He also has pointed out the men suffered from the early loss of one or more parents, resulting in them being placed in the orphanage — leading to a sense of abandonment.

He also said deprivation played a role in their later life troubles, including career setbacks or failure to realize their full potential.

As for experts, including psychologists, called to testify by the former residents’ lawyers, Blom challenged the thoroughness, accuracy and impartiality of their findings.








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