There is no future for the Christian Brothers order unless it addresses the devastation caused by child sex abuse, a senior leader told the royal commission in Perth yesterday after confirming nearly $21 million had been paid in compensation to more than 400 victims over the past three decades.
Giving evidence during the second week of the public hearing into a case study involving four WA Christian Brothers' orphanages, deputy province leader Brother Julian McDonald also described a class action against the order as re-abusing the former home's residents.
Both Brother McDonald and former province leader Brother Anthony Shanahan admitted in their evidence that the $5 million settlement in the class action - which included $1.5 million in legal fees - was inadequate for the abuse inflicted at the hands of Brothers.
The two Brothers have given evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, which is investigating horrifying events at the Christian Brothers' Tardun, Bindoon, Clontarf and Castledare homes.
Last week, 11 former residents of the homes told brutal stories of being repeatedly raped and beaten, neglected, forced into child labour and tortured by the Brothers entrusted with their care between 1947 and 1968.
Brother McDonald confirmed that between 1980 and 2013, there had been 775 allegations of sexual abuse against members of the Christian Brothers by 531 complainants across Australia.
He said 424 of the applicants had received settlements totalling $20,885,000.
Brother McDonald said the payouts were on top of the $5 million, which included $3.5 million for a trust fund, settled in a class action taken by Slater & Gordon.
He said he had told a recent Christian Brothers chapter in Nairobi: "There is no future for the Christian Brothers until we address the devastation that some of our Brothers have caused by child sexual abuse - no future unless and until we do."
Earlier yesterday, the commission was told that the extent of the harm inflicted on boys as a result of the Christian Brothers' abuse was first recognised by the order's leaders in 1954, but no fundamental changes were made.