Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Christian Brothers accused of shielding assets from sex abuse victim, court told

Lawyers for a man who was sexually abused by a now retired Christian Brother have accused the order of pursuing what they called a “despicable agenda” to get rid of his civil case cheaply and discourage others from taking similar legal actions against the order.

Paul Hendrick who was principal of the CBS school on Westland Row, was jailed for three and half years earlier this month for the repeated sexual abuse of one of his students, Kenneth Grace when he was a pupil.

Mr Grace told the Circuit Criminal Court that Hendrick was a monster who had destroyed his childhood. He said he was sexually and mentally abused by Hendrick over four years beginning in May 1980.

Legal system

Mr Grace began a legal action for damages against the Christian brothers in 2019. His lawyers told the High Court on Tuesday that this action was no further on, four years later, because of the way the Christian Brothers had chosen to deal with the case.

Senior Counsel, John Gordon said the Christian Brothers were playing “ducks and drakes with the legal system”. 

He said they had refused to nominate the current provincial leader of the order or the previous provincial leader to represent the order in the proceedings.

Instead, they had forced Mr Grace to sue all the individual Christian Brothers who were members of the order at the time he was abused. 

Mr Gordon said they were only given the names of those members after they got a High Court order in 2021.

Mr Gordon told the court the only possible purpose of the strategy was to place Mr Grace at a disadvantage in any dealings with the Christian brothers.

He said they were trying to force Mr Grace into mediation to get rid of his case as cheaply as possible and to discourage others from pursuing the Christian brothers because it was so “troublesome”. 

He described it as a “horrible, distasteful, despicable” agenda.


The case was before the High Court as the lawyer representing the previous provincial leader Brother Edmund Garvey and the current leader, Brother David Gibson, in their personal capacities, sought an order compelling both sides to enter into mediation.

After hearing submissions from the legal sides Mr Justice Tony O’Connor ruled in the circumstances of the case he was not satisfied mediation would assist in reaching a settlement.

The court also heard that there are 120 defendants in the case. Judgement has been granted against 91 in default of defence 14 are dead and nine live abroad and applications have yet to be brought against three other Irish defendants.

The case will come back before the courts on October 10 when it is expected a hearing date will be sought.

Counsel said one of the things Mr Grace would like to receive is an apology, not just from Hendrick, but from the order.

It was also claimed there was a “systematic effort” by the order to divest themselves of assets. 

Mr Gordon said the only outcome of this would be to mean that those with claims against the order were left with less to compensate them.

This claim was strongly denied by the barrister representing Brother Garvey and Brother Gibson. 

Barrister Karl Finnegan said this was not the case at all in relation to the defendants he represented. 

But he said there was no evidence at all of any attempts by the order to shield assets.