More than 100 lawsuits against a religious order over the activities of convicted child molester and former surgeon Michael Shine have been settled – but victims were gagged to discuss the outcome of their cases.
Plaintiffs were required to agree to keep the terms of the Medical Missionaries of Mary settlements confidential Irish Independent have learned.
Toggle clauses were added to the compensation agreements, which will cost contract insurers millions of euros.
Despite the comparisons being kept secret, sources familiar with the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said individual awards were mostly between €20,000 and €65,000.
The cumulative amount of compensation to be paid is not yet known, but the total package is likely to be below an earlier agreement of around 10 million euros. That payment was made by order in 2012 in another multiparty lawsuit involving a similar number of plaintiffs who also alleged abuse by Shine.
The new settlements mark the end of a nine-year fight for compensation for some of the litigants.
A compensation agreement was originally believed to have been reached in October last year only for a messy legal battle to delay the settlements for another year.
On that occasion, victims’ advocates told the High Court that the cases had been settled and that a hearing was no longer required. A few weeks later, however, lawyers for the religious order said there had been no agreement and the court should not have been told.
The 112 lawsuits contained allegations dating from 1964 to 1995 and involved complainants aged between six and young adulthood at the time
Lawyers for the plaintiffs later claimed the delay was due to a dispute between the congregation and their insurers over which of them would have to pay the legal costs claimed by the HSE, which was an original defendant in the case but was no longer sued.
The 112 lawsuits were finally settled quietly in September of this year. Notices have been filed in recent days alerting the High Court that the claims have been dropped.
The religious order was sued for running Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth until 1997 when ownership was transferred to what was then the North Eastern Health Board. Shine, 89, had worked at the hospital for decades and much of the abuse was said to have taken place there and in private rooms he kept elsewhere.
Shine, based in Wellington Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, was also sued but did not participate in the court proceedings.
The 112 lawsuits contained allegations dating from 1964 to 1995 and involved complainants aged between six and young adulthood at the time.
Galligan Johnston, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment on the settlements.
Inquiries to the medical missionaries of Mary and Crowley Millar, the law firm representing the order, about the settlements and the use of confidentiality clauses have gone unanswered.
Victims are now expected to turn their attention to urging a public inquiry into how the disgraced former counselor was able to abuse children for so long.
Shine has never admitted his crimes and, despite hundreds of allegations, has only served three years in prison with further prosecutions believed unlikely.
Earlier this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled not to prosecute over complaints from 25 men.
At least 11 of the complainants have asked the DPP’s office to review decisions made in their cases, with the outcome of the reviews expected next month.
The DPP’s decision not to press charges came after a court of appeals ruling that it would be unfair for Shine to face another trial on 31 indecent assault charges due to a combination of factors, including delays with prosecutors , his age and his health .
However, his challenge was rejected by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal and he was eventually found guilty of three counts of indecent assault in 2017 and sentenced to 20 months in prison
Dignity for Patients, a group that supports Shine’s former patients, said the victims requested a public inquiry after the settlements.
“This is something that many survivors will be pursuing and focusing their energies on over the coming year,” said the group’s CEO, Adrienne O’Reilly.
She said there was significant disappointment among victims that further prosecutions had been ruled out, and that many felt a public inquiry could provide “a pathway of justice” by which people could be held accountable.
After allegations surfaced against Shine in the mid-1990s, the former adviser took various legal actions to end government investigations and criminal proceedings.
The first complaint against him for alleged indecent assault was filed in 1994 by a former patient. Less than a year later, Shine retired on full pension.
A complaint from a man who claimed Shine had abused him as a 17-year-old in the 1970s while recovering from surgery was considered by the hospital’s board, who decided Shine had no case to answer.
The former patient then complained to the Gardaí and the Medical Association.
After the Medical Council decided to conduct a formal investigation in 1996, Shine began a protracted legal battle that stalled proceedings for 12 years.
Shine was first prosecuted in 2003 when he stood trial in hospital and in his consulting rooms at Dundalk District Court between 1974 and 1982 on 11 counts of indecent assault. He was acquitted by a jury.
After the fall, he resisted efforts by the Medical Council to examine him.
However, he ultimately failed in a High Court challenge and was struck off the Medical Register in 2008.
Shine would face further charges and pursue legal action to avoid a retrial. In 2013 he brought a case in the High Court to drop a prosecution involving 22 complainants, citing a delay in bringing charges and public relations as reasons why he could not get a fair trial.
However, his challenge was rejected by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal and he was eventually found guilty of three counts of indecent assault in 2017 and sentenced to 20 months in prison.
But he was released on bail pending an appeal.
While still on bail, he faced a third criminal trial in 2019 for molesting seven boys. He was sentenced to four years in prison for 12 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.
The appeals court would subsequently dismiss his appeal against his conviction from the 2017 trial. However, he only sat behind bars for three years because both sentences were running at the same time.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/more-than-100-victims-are-gagged-by-settlements-in-lawsuits-over-actions-of-child-molesting-surgeon-michael-shine-42147677.html More than 100 victims are gagged by settlements in court cases over the actions of child molestation surgeon Michael Shine