Christian Brothers agree to pay WA child sex abuse victim Paul Bradshaw $1 million settlement
A 60-YEAR fight against the brutal Christian Brothers has finally ended for a WA child sex abuse victim who was awarded $1 million in a landmark legal case.
Paul Bradshaw was physically and sexually abused at the hands of the brothers, as was hundreds orphanages throughout the state.
Mr Bradshaw, 74, on Thursday became the first under WA’s new laws to go to court to claim damages for alleged historic child sexual abuse.
His case was fast-tracked before a judge because Mr Bradshaw has weeks to live from prostate cancer – and he had been due to finally detail the horrific ordeal he suffered as a small boy at the Castledare Junior Orphanage and Clontarf Orphanage in the 1950s and 60s.
But after a last-minute offer from lawyers for the Trustees of the Christian Brothers, Mr Bradshaw was spared that ordeal – and won the case he had been fighting since he was old enough to understand exactly the horrors inflicted him by several of the brothers – chief amongst them the notorious Brother Lawrence Murphy.
The $1 million is by far the largest the Christian Brothers have ever offered or had to pay in WA – in a case that was the first heard since WA lifted the time limit on child abuse claims.
And it sets the benchmark for likely hundreds of others to follow.
Mr Bradshaw has been a long-time campaigner for children abused at church-run institutions, even confronting former premier Colin Barnett in 2009 over his government’s decision to halve the maximum amount payable to victims through Redress WA.
“I have been trying since I was 16 for justice and every time I think I am going to get it, it dies on me,” Mr Bradshaw said.
“If I can get justice before I die, I will be happy. I don’t mind being first — because the sexual abuse has been in my head all my life.”
Outside court Mr Bradshaw explained he was relieved his family would receive his compensation money.
“I lived on the street most of my life and I don’t want them to go through the same thing I went through,” he told reporters.
“I’m just hoping now that this has been settled and I can get on with my last six months in peace.
“I will die happy now knowing that I can care for my family.”
Mr Bradshaw had taken his battle to court in the past but justice had eluded him until now.
“I wasn’t going for the money. I was just going for justice,” he said.
“I just wanted the apology of the Christian Brothers and I would have been happy with that.”
Mr Bradshaw urged other victims to pursue their legal options.
Lawyer Michael Magazanik, from Rightside Legal in Melbourne, told reporters it was a landmark case in WA.
“It if weren’t for recent changes in WA law, none of this was possible,” he said.
“Now WA law is the fairest and certainly the most progressive for survivors like Paul.”
Mr Magazanik said the orphanages housed the most vulnerable children who had no families to go home to, nobody to complain to and nobody outside the orphanages to protect them.
“They were utterly vulnerable and the orphanages were a magnet for the very worst of the Brothers, the violent paedophiles.”