St John of God Brothers to pay out $3.6 million
The Hospitaller Order of St John of God will pay more than $3.6 million to victims of sexual abuse at boys' homes in Melbourne following an out of court settlement released yesterday.
The St John of God Brothers have agreed to pay 24 victims compensation ranging from around $100,000 to $400,000 each for abuse at its Cheltenham, Lilydale and Greensborough homes between 1968 and 1994.
Police are investigating possible criminal action against some of the brothers involved.
The payout amounts have been agreed but have not yet been legally certified. The St John of God Brothers and the claimants' lawyers, Slater and Gordon, issued a joint statement yesterday after The Age newspaper sought confirmation of the figures.
Congregational Leader Br Peter Burke said each victim would get a personal letter of apology.
Peter Gordon, of Slater and Gordon, paid tribute to the "decency and integrity" of the order in settling the cases of some claimants, whose mental disabilities made it difficult for them to communicate.
"All the people we acted for had some form of communication or intellectual disability," he said. "From a legal point of view these were very hard cases to litigate, and after having met very aggressive legal tactics from other Catholic orders in the past, I respect and admire the way the defendants handled it."
Mr Gordon said he believed the settlements, made under the church's national Towards Healing process, reflected what would have been achieved through a court hearing.
Resolution of Claims Of Sexual Abuse Against the St John Of God Brothers -- St John Of God Brothers & Law Firm Slater & Gordon
Hospitaller Order of St John of God (Australia)
Church pays out $3.6m (Herald-Sun)
St John of God to pay $3.6 million (The Australian)
Towards Healing - Principles and procedures in responding to complaints of abuse against personnel of the Catholic Church of Australia
13 Jun 2002