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How Marists avoided large victim payouts, despite huge wealth

The Marist Brothers and Fathers have educated prime ministers, judges, cardinals and All Blacks at their prestigious Catholic high schools. But their record of sexual abuse is horrific. Worse still was their handling of the abuse when it was exposed. In this series, The Secret History, Steve Kilgallon investigates the power, abuse and cover-ups at the heart of two highly-influential and wealthy religious groups.

Waiheke Island, 2002. Robbie West* isn’t in a good way. He’s taking a lot of methamphetamine and drinking heavily, but making a valiant effort to tidy his life up.

After nearly three decades, he’s realised that the recurring nightmares that keep pushing him back to drink and drugs are actually painful memories he’s been working hard to bury. Having tried police and lawyers to gain redress and compensation for the abuse he suffered at the hands of his schoolteacher – a man we cannot name for legal reasons – he’s now turned to his teacher’s religious order, the Marist Brothers.

West turns up with his counsellor to a small church hall in Oneroa – the main town on the Hauraki Gulf island – where he’s met by Brothers Henry Spinks (who has since died) and Richard Dunleavy, who between them handled the Brothers’ compensation settlements for over 20 years.

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