Over the past eight years, our sexual abuse attorneys have settled more cases against the Christian Brothers than anyone else in the United States. During that time we have gathered an extensive amount of evidence regarding their sexual abuse of children in the United States and around the world, going back to the 1940s.
On April 28, 2011, two corporations that the Congregation of Christian Brothers created to hold many of their assets declared bankruptcy. They filed for bankruptcy in order to try to protect some of those assets from sexual abuse survivors. We are actively involved with the bankruptcy process and are doing whatever we can to hold the Christian Brothers accountable. Read below about the very important deadline for abuse survivors.
We currently represent a number of survivors of Christian Brothers abuse around the country. If you have any questions about the bankruptcy process, including whether you may have claims against others entities like the local Diocese or Archdiocese, please contact us so you can protect your rights.
Upcoming Deadline to File Claims
On February 10, 2012, the bankruptcy court entered an order that requires sexual abuse survivors to file claims by August 1, 2012. All other claims against the Christian Brothers, including claims for physical abuse, must be filed by May 11, 2012. If you fail to file a claim by the deadline, you may forever lose your right to sue the Christian Brothers. Read more on this “bar date” deadline for Christian Brothers abuse survivors.
Website for Abuse Survivors
Given the substantial amount of information involved, we have put together a separate website for our clients and others to learn about the Christian Brothers bankruptcy process. We encourage you to visit that website to learn more about the bankruptcy, the Christian Brothers, and their schools. You can also stay on this website to view some of the information we have posted about O’Dea High School, Briscoe Memorial School, and Christian Brother Edward Courtney,
Our Perspective on the Bankruptcy Filing
Below is a summary of that bankruptcy filing and the perspective of two of our attorneys, Michael Pfau and Jason Amala, who have devoted much of the past eight years to helping survivors. Other links on this page provide a summary of the evidence that we have obtained regarding their abuses at Briscoe Memorial School and O’Dea High School, as well as some of the documents the Christian Brothers have filed with the bankruptcy court.
If you would like to speak with an attorney from our firm about the Christian Brothers, the contact us page will send an email to Michael and Jason. You are also always welcome to call Michael or Jason directly.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Force Christian Brothers to Declare Bankruptcy
(New York) – The Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, has filed for bankruptcy protection over allegations that its members sexually abused scores of children in the United States and Canada. Last year, the Congregation of Christian Brothers came under fire over a report by the government of Ireland that its members sexually abused thousands of children in that country.
Although the Christian Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection in New York, under the name of the Christian Brothers Institute, the majority of the active lawsuits were filed over allegations of sexual abuse at schools and orphanages the Brothers owned and operated in Washington state and Canada.
Seattle sexual abuse attorney Michael Pfau, who filed ten of the active claims in Washington state and has settled more than 50 others against the Christian Brothers in the past eight years, claims the Brothers filed for bankruptcy in an effort to shield their assets in Rome. “Ever since they came to the United States the Christian Brothers have accumulated money and assets for their headquarters in Ireland and then Rome. It is a worldwide organization that doesn’t want to be held responsible, either legally or financially, for what it knew its members were doing to children in the United States and Canada.”
At one point, the North American Province owned or operated more than a dozen orphanages and schools around the United States and in Canada. Currently, its Brothers staff schools across the United States, including Brother Rice High School in Chicago, O’Dea High School in Seattle, and Damien Memorial School in Hawaii.
According to Pfau, it is unclear how many victims may come forward as a result of the bankruptcy filing. “The Christian Brothers came to New York at the turn of the last century and they slowly moved West. They operated schools in many states, including New York, Chicago, Montana, Washington, California, and Hawaii. Given the severity of sexual abuse we have seen in their internal documents, and their cover-up of that abuse, it is difficult to imagine how many children were likely abused at their schools.”
The Christian Brothers are the second Catholic religious order to declare bankruptcy in the last two years over claims that its members sexually abused children. Just last month, the Oregon Province of the Jesuits announced it had settled the claims of more than 450 victims who came forward after it filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
According to Pfau, who represents nearly 150 victims in the Jesuit bankruptcy, the two bankruptcies are similar because both orders are alleged to have frequently sent abusers to places where they could molest orphans or children from broken homes. “This Christian Brothers organization has caused irreparable damage to a staggering number of children who were entrusted in their care. They made money taking over the care of children, but put many of their members who were known abusers in charge of them. Nobody else was there to protect them. The results were predictable and horrific, and then they tried to cover it up. This bankruptcy is just another effort for them to avoid responsibility for this tragedy.”
Pfau acknowledges the bankruptcy will lead to closure for abuse victims, but fears the Christian Brothers may try to use it to hide the full story of their alleged abuses. “The bankruptcy should be beneficial to victims in terms of providing some amount of closure, but it is frustrating to the extent it will allow the Christian Brothers to further conceal a century-worth of wrongdoing.”
More than Fifty Claims in Washington State Alone
In the past eight years, the Christian Brothers have faced more than fifty cases in Washington state over allegations of sexual abuse at schools they jointly operated with the Seattle Archdiocese.