The Royal Commission in Perth has been told the Christian Brothers would not budge from a $5 million offer to settle multiple abuse cases.
The Christian Brothers had a misplaced prejudice against physical and sexual abuse survivors who pursued them through the courts in the 1990s, a lawyer for the order has told an inquiry.
Lawyer for the religious order Howard Harrison said they may have had the “ill-informed” attitude that people seeking compensation through the courts were somehow less deserving.
“A misplaced prejudice,” Mr Harrison said in response to a question on Friday at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
It also heard a West Australian government compensation scheme for people abused in state care referred 2233 cases to WA police between 2008 and 2011.
The commission is hearing evidence about how civil litigation against the order in the mid-1990s was handled, and earlier this week heard from survivors of their extreme physical and sexual abuse at four WA Christian Brothers’ facilities between 1947 and 1968.
Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness asked if the Christian Brothers felt affronted that children abused while in the order’s care had pursued them through the courts.
“Could have been,” Mr Harrison said.
A $30 million settlement proposal put forward by the survivors’ lawyers, Slater & Gordon, was first whittled down to between $18 million and $20 million.
It was then reduced further to $9.5 million and then $7.5 million.
Mr Harrison maintained an offer of $5 million to settle the matter.
“So is it the case that throughout these settlement negotiations, the plaintiffs had dropped from $30 million to $5 million – you started at $5 million and didn’t budge?” Ms Furness asked.
“I think we started at $3 million,” Mr Harrison said.
Eventually, $3.5 million was put into a trust for survivors of abuse.
In all, 124 men were offered compensation of either $25,000, $10,000 or $9,750 from the trust.
The $9.5 million settlement offer would have been broken down as $4.5 million for a survivors trust, $2.5 million in costs to Slater and Gordon, and another $2.5 million cash payments for cases of significant and serious alleged injury.
Mr Harrison said at the time he thought there would be only 30 men who would require compensation for serious sexual abuse.
The commission heard about the administration of Redress WA, a compensation scheme set up by the state government to acknowledge and apologise to adults who were abused and neglected while in the care of the state as children.
Redress, which ran from 2008 to December 2011, initially offered a maximum of $80,000 to abuse survivors, but this was subsequently reduced to a maximum of $45,000.
Norrell Lethorn, director of the WA department of Local Government and Communities told the commission Redress had referred 2233 cases to WA police.
“I don’t know if any resulted in charges or convictions,” she said.
Police in 2010 set up Operation Boulter to investigate those claims.
They have yet to respond to an AAP query about how many arrests and convictions came out of the referrals.
Next week the commission is expected to hear from Bruno Fiannaca, acting director of WA’s department of Child Protection and Family Support.
It will also hear from Brother Anthony Shanahan, the former provincial leader of the Christian Brothers in WA and South Australia, and the order’s current deputy leader for Oceania, Brother Julian McDonald.