Two years after they sought bankruptcy protection to avoid more than 200 embarrasing civil sex abuse trials, the New York-based Irish Christian Brothers (ICB) have settled with more than 400 victims of child sexual abuse (in Canada and the United States) for $16.5 million.
This marks the end of the first step for many ICB victims. The settlement does not include the actual Irish Christian Brothers schools or the dioceses where they were located. Only the actual order was included in the settlement.
For victims in Hawaii, this means that they can still take legal action against Damien Memorial and the Diocese of Honolulu, whose officials, victims say, knew about abuse and covered it up. The same holds true for ICB victims across the country, including communities such as Bergen County, NJ; Salinas, CA; Chicago and Seattle.
But there is something very important to note about the ICB bankruptcy. While the battle is far from over, brave survivors in this case exposed dozens of predators who had been hidden in schools across the country. They were able to inform communities that convicted abusers such as Brother Thomas C. Ford and Br. Robert Brouillette taught children in more than 15 states. Survivors were able to show how serial predators such as Fr. Gerald Funcheon were sent to Hawaii to hide from allegations on the mainland.
Even more important, brave survivors exposed Irish Christian Brothers who were STILL in position of power. Br. James Ligouri was asked to resign from his position at Fordham University when two victims came forward. Br. Karl Walczak, principal at Seattle’s O’Dea High School, was quietly removed from his job last year when a victim came forward. Months later, parents found out that he was removed for abuse, causing a media firestorm.
Hopefully, the continued fight will draw more attention to the cover up and help continue to keep kids safe right now.
You can read the press release from the bankruptcy committee here.