A man who has six months to live says he can die happy after reaching a $1 million settlement in his landmark historical child sex abuse case against the Christian Brothers, which could pave the way for other victims.
Paul Bradshaw, 74, has terminal cancer and was due to testify on Thursday in the WA District Court about his ill treatment at Castledare Junior Orphanage and Clontarf Orphanage in the 1950s and ’60s.
But instead, a settlement was reached with the Trustees of the Christian Brothers for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Brothers Lawrence Murphy, Bruno Doyle and Christopher Angus, who are all dead.
Mr Bradshaw is the first person to claim damages under laws that recently came into effect in WA removing the time limit for compensation in such cases.
The Christian Brothers have paid a total of $48.5 million to 763 victims, with an average payment of $64,000, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard last year.
“I lived on the street most of my life and I don’t want my family to go through the same thing I went through,” Mr Bradshaw told reporters through tears.
“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.”
Lawyer Michael Magazanik said his firm was working on about 60 similar cases in WA.
“Paul’s win will give enormous heart, courage and confidence to hundreds of other West Australians who were abused,” he said.
“It’s a landmark day for justice in WA.”
Mr Magazanik said WA laws were now the fairest and most progressive for survivors, and he expected many other claims to be settled.
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 Magazanik said the orphanages housed the most vulnerable children who had no families and nobody to protect them.
“They were utterly vulnerable and the orphanages were a magnet for the very worst of the Brothers, the violent pedophiles.”
Ten years before Brother Murphy abused Mr Bradshaw, he was reported for child sex abuse but nothing was done about it, Mr Magazanik said.
Twice as a child Mr Bradshaw’s claims of abuse were dismissed.
He later told a judge he was abused but was labelled a liar and put in a psychiatric hospital, Mr Magazanik said.
In the 1990s, Mr Bradshaw also participated in the prosecution of Brother Murphy, but the Director of Public Prosecutions eventually dropped the case and he died without facing justice.
Mr Bradshaw confronted then-premier Colin Barnett in 2009 when the maximum amount payable under Redress WA was halved.