Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pro Bono 15

Chapter 15.

The hearing before the Magistrate took less than an hour to complete and
Ross was granted bail as expected. The case was set to go before the
Criminal Court in two months' time. There was a small contingent of media
gathered in front of the Magistrate court when we re-emerged, but since the
presiding Magistrate reminded the media that some aspect of the case
involved minors, they should refrain from mentioning names and details of
persons involved, and that the privacy of the Markeys must be respected at
all time, the media turned their attention onto me instead.

"All I can say is that my client will plead not guilty in the upcoming
trial, and as a matter of fact, I think the Catholic church has a lot to
answer for what had happened to my client. Right at this moment I have
nothing further to add, everything will be revealed during the trial, no
doubt I'll see you guys in two months' time, so gentlemen, thank you all,
and have a good day".

I was on the evening news that day, and next morning the second page in
most of the papers. Dad called, volunteered some pointer on jury
selection, "may I tell you that the 30 something female jurors are the best
in cases involving minors, James, maternity heart string always win out".

"Thanks, dad, what do you think my chance in this case?"

"60/40, in your favor, which is pretty good. Even if he is found guilty,
the sentencing could be light, he might get off with a suspended. But I
suspect the manslaughter trial is just part of your main game, the more
rewarding one is the one that follows".

"What do you mean?"

"Don't be coy with me, James, I'm your old man remember? the negligent and
cover up claims against the Catholic church"

"You cunning old fox, oh well, since you mentioned. I think I have at
least twelve of the former students wish to pursue compensation claim, in a
class action, against the schools involved. When the manslaughter trial is
in full swing more previous students might come forward. I think they have
a good claim. I can't sign them up just yet, as I need them to be my
witnesses in the manslaughter trial. But the other difficulty is that they
are not only asking me to champion their cases, but to fund the litigation
as well, put it simply, 'no cure no pay'. Being a one man band, this poor
chuch mouse to oppose the deep pocket of the Catholic church? I don't
think I'm the right person to take it. Can you recommend a decent legal
firm? I don't want these poor people to fall into the jaw of some shark in
town and ending up paying out more than 40% of their gains to the lawyers"

"Well, since you asked, I do have someone I could recommend, you, son of a
fox. This cunning old fox, and several of his colleague, plus some of his
past and current students, are willing to band together to lend you a
helping hand in the class action. I do know your financial situation, the
salary in Legal Aid is at the bottom of the heap, that's why no one
interested in working there at the first place. And as for the court
costs, do not despair, your very rich grandpa, is willing to come to the
rescue, he volunteers to underwrite all expenses, in the unlikely event
that we lose".

"Thanks dad, but I don't think I could accept that, it is too much. And in
the unlikely event that we lose, even with you guys going pro bono, the
court costs could reach a six figure sum, and we might even be liable for
the legal costs of the other side".

"James, grandpa knows all that, but he thinks it is a good investment, you
see, it is not going to be 100 percent pro bono, we want a cut of the
bootie. What percentage you have in mind to charge on the Resolution Sum?"

"I'm thinking in the vicinity of 15 percent, depends on the amount of
compensation they might receive, and of course if the case goes to trial or
settles out of court"

"That's very fair of you, I don't think your clients could find a better
deal anywhere in town. Our cut is 70 percent of what you get from your
client, you happy with that?"

"Sure, dad, it's a very good deal, I'm happy to let you have 80%"

"James, you might be a good lawyer, but certainly not a good business man.
No, 70% is what your grandpa suggested. I'll send over the Retainer and
Funding Agreements for you and your clients to look at after the
manslaughter trial finishes"

Det. Rogerson had been hinting to me that the officer from the Department
of Public Prosecutions seems wanting to lose the case instead winning it. I
hope it is true.

I'd been updated by John Markey on the relationship between the family
members. There was still some tension between the two ex-es, but father and
son were getting on just fine. And even with John's partner Kurt, who paid
a flying visit a few days ago, and was introduced to Roos over a pizza
dinner. "How did it go?" I asked. "They hit off well, Kurt has a couple
of teenage sons of his own from his previous marriage, before he met me of
course, he talks their language", "and the other good news is that Roslyn
has not touched a drop since our first meeting".

During the first day of the trial, the prosecution half heartedly tried to
portray the killing a result of a homosexual relationship that went wrong,
Ross killed his victim out of jealousy. But there was an blatant omission,
that the relationship started when Ross was only 10 years old. Finally
they put Ross on the stand, who, under my instructions, dressed in his
school uniform. Navy blue jacket, grey flannel trousers, green and gold
school tie, not a day older than 16, a very vulnerable young boy on trial.
I could see the prosecutor feeling uncomfortable, awkward. Every question
put to him replied in a boyish voice of yes or no. Yes, I killed Father
O'connor, no, I was not angry, no, I was not jealous. Yes, I loved him.
Yes, I wanted to be with him. No, I didn't know I was hurting him. No, I
couldn't remember what I was doing.

Then, it was my turn to cross examine him. I requested the clerk to set up
the projector.

"Ross, can you see what's on the screen? and please explain to the members
of the Jury what it is?"

"Yes, excerpt from my diary"

"Good, Ross, I will like you to read them out loud"

The court went pin drop quiet, we heard only the clear voice of a young boy
reverberating in the hall of justice, in the Church of his Father.

"Father provided sanctuary for me, away from my mother's alcohol induced
rage and depression, Father gave me comfort, reassurance, encouraged me to
keep faith, to continue my schooling, helped me with my school works".

"The many nights I slept over at Father's place, the hugs, the cuddles, the
kisses. I was loved by someone again, I no longer felt abandoned".

"Nights we were sleeping naked together, then first time I touched his
private part, the strange sensation, size, hairs, muscle, and the sticky
stuff. The sensation of being touched by him, funny itch, wanting to piss,
my first orgasm. He told me I was his most special friend, our love was
sacred, not to be shared, not to be told, just between us two"

I could see Ross's face turned pink, his voice getting lower. "Please
speak up just a little bit, Ross"

"One night Father told me it could be painful, but I must bear it, because
it was nothing when compared with what Jesus had to suffer on the cross.
It was very very painful, but I remembered what Father said, I wanted to
feel the pain of Jesus. The pain gradually eased, the uncomfortable
feeling of wanting to shit followed, I heard him grunted. He then took my
private part into his mouth, he swallowed my sperm".

"Father became very distant, no longer wanted me to stay overnight with
him. Telling me I should start taking up more responsibility towards my
mother, to stay at my own place instead of his. He had another child to
look after, Peter, who's fathered died in an car accident".

"I was going to see him tomorrow, to beg him to reconsider, I will tell
Father that I will do anything, for him to change his mind". That was the
end of his entry.

"Ross, what happened when you met Father O'Connor the next day? Did you set
out to kill him?"

"No, I didn't set out to kill him. I met him in the church, I begged him
to reconsider his decision. Father told me to pray, he said I was being
selfish, I give no thought to the need of other children, that I only think
of myself. He knelt down in front of the altar, told me to join him. All
I remember was that I held his head, or maybe his neck, and started shaking
him, telling him I'm not a selfish person, all I want is to be with him, I
can't live without him. I blacked out after that. When I woke up, he was
lying there motionless, I knelt down next to him and tried to wake him, he
was not breathing" he started crying.

When he was off the stand, I started to project the photos of Ross onto the
big screen, Ross, a rather skinny and unhappy boy, gradually growing into
adulthood. Each of them tagged with his age, fully clothed, at picnic, at
home, at swimming holes, at camp sites, in variously states of undressing,
semi or totally nude, more sexual, more alluring, enticing smiles, with a
full erection, masturbating by himself, jerked by a faceless hand, Ross on
his stomach, long slim legs and small buttock. It spanned over a period of
eight years, from a young boy into late teens. I watched the reaction from
the jury stand, some of the members were clearly affected by all these,
perhaps some of them were once touched by an O'Connor?

Well, my blatant omission was the passage describing that he was angry, and
the feeling of being abandoned once more. I had a gut feeling that the
prosecution was not going to bring it up. And I was right.

That night I got a called from my dad, "Master stroke, James, I heard of
people dressed up in school uniforms during fantasy sex play, but in a
manslaughter trial? I think it could be the first in record book" When I
told Ben about our conversation, he laughed. Then I asked if I could have
him dressed up in uniform for my pleasure, "School uniform? No thanks",
"No, Commando uniform, you idiot", "Maybe".

Days followed by testimonies from my witnesses, each told story of how
O'Connor took advantage during school camping trips, how each of the
parent's complaints to the school met with no action, they only received
letters telling them after some 'very vigorous and thorough investigation',
the school could find no evidence to support their allegation of sexual
abuse, etc. etc. and that Father O'Connor had resigned from his teaching
post and that was the end of the story, full stop. Every letter with the
same reply verbatim, the only thing different was the details of the
recpient of the letters.

I called the principals who handled the complaints against Father O'Connor
before the court to testify.

Oh, yes, their so called 'very vigorous and thorough investigation" was no
more than having a few quiet words with Father O'Connor, asking him if
anything untoward happened during those school camping trips in question.

After showing the first principal the photos marked 'sp' in O'Connor's 'My
Class' folder, I started the grilling.

"Sir, do you recognise those photos? were they your former students who
made complaints about Father O'Connor?"

"Yes, I do recognise most of them, sir, I'm pretty sure they were the ones
made allegation about Father O'Connor".

"And after complaints from the parents of these boys, you didn't think it
was seriously enough to refer the matter to the police?"

"With hindsight..."

"Just answer yes or no, sir"


'You had no doubt that all the kids and parents involved were simply touble
makers, were lying, and Father O'connor was the only person who was telling
the truth?"

"I didn't say they were trouble makers,..."

"Oh, actions speak louder than words sir, so, yes or no?"


"Not only no appropriate action was taken by you, Father O'Connor was later
transferred to another shcool so his predatory behavior against young
school boys continued, unabated. Did you not once have any concern for the
young kids of that school, and that their welfare might, I repeat, might be
at risk?"

"His transfer was not done under my authority, it was the responsibility of
the Archdiocese, sir I also worte a letter to the Archdiocese advising them
my concern about Father O'Connor, and I though he should be relieved of his
duty as a shcool teacher".

"But did you tell the parents who made the complaints at the first place?
if not, why not?"

"I didn't inform the parents. It was standing instructions from the
Archdiocese, and our insurers, not to admit liability".

"Was Ross Markey a good student?"

"Yes, I would say a model student".

"Did he ever show any violent behavior? or got into any fight with fellow

"Not that I know of"

"Thank you. I've finished with the witness, your Honor".

Then came the second principal, the same questions, the same answers. They
worried only about bad publicity, the reputation of their school, and
liability, it was all about money, full stop.

"So, who gave the order to transfer Father O'Connor from his PE teaching
post to become a Catholic priest?"

"The Archdiocese"

"Did you not tell the Archdiocese about the sexual abuse complaints against
Father O'Connor?"

"I sent them copies of all the complaint letters, together with a letter
from me"

"Could you remember what was stated in your letter?"

"Yes, I told him I was not happy with Father O'Connor's explanation, and
thought he should be removed from his teaching post pronto, I didn't
recommend him to the post of a priest"

"Very good, sir, but how come you never told the parents about your 'not
happy with Father O'Connor's explanation' and instead you told the parents
that after some very 'vigorous and thorough investigation' there was 'no
evidence to support the sexual abuse allegations' ?"

"I followed the standing instructions Arochdiocese and our Insurers, not to
admit liability, sir"

"Very sound instructions indeed, thank you sir. I've finished with this
witness, your Honor"

On the final day of the trial, it became clear to me that Det. Rogerson was
right, the prosecutor was not interested in getting a conviction. Their
address to the jury was piss weak. Yes, Father O'Connor was a paedophile,
yes, it was a punishable offense, not by death though. Could we believe
the words of the defendent? No, of course not. He killed Father O'Connor
out of jealousy, anger, he didn't have a black out as claimed.

Then, it was my closing address.

"Yes, this young boy killed someone, but that someone was not an ordinary
decent human being. He was a monster. If he was still alive, then, his
next victim, Peter, as listed in his computer folder with a very sinister
name 'My children'. We couldn't find out anything about Peter, but one
thing we could be sure of, he has escaped from this monster" I put up the
photo of Peter onto the big screen.

"Father O'Connor gained total trust of Ross Markey, took away the innocence
of a ten years old, used him for his sexual gratification over a period of
8 years, then, when Ross Markey reached the used by date, i.e. 18 years of
age, O'Connor tossed Ross Markey out like a bag of garbage, for he had
found a new and younger victim"

"I would like to suggest to the members of the Jury, the guilty party in
this trial is not Ross Markey, it should be the Catholic Archdiocese. If
they had acted properly, Father O'Connor should never have been allowed to
become a priest, and Ross Markey, in all probability, would not have come
into contact with Father O'Connor"

"The main thrust in this case is, do you believe if Ross Markey is telling
the truth, that he suffered an attack of black out during that fateful
meeting with Father O'Connor? I think the answer to that is obvious. If
Ross Markey is a deceitful kid, he would have tried to cover up the
killing, no, in fact, he went straight to the police and confessed"

"So, please do not punish him anymore, please find him not guilty. Please
let him have a chance to rebuild his life with proper counselling, take him
out of this nightmare, give him back some of his lost youth".

I was mighty pleased when I stood in front of the court, flanked by many
cameras, TV crew, all I wanted to do was to go home and have a hot shower.

As for the class action against the Catholic church, collectively we had a
total of 20 ex-students, including Ross, to join the claim for
compensation. We didn't get the chance to test our case in court though,
the Catholic chuch didn't put up much of a fight to start with. They tried
to offer us a six figure sum initially, but ended up paying out a $25
millions settlement. The testimonies from the two principals, the photos,
the killing, the acquittal, we had an iron clad case, and they knew it.
The only concession from us was the inclusion of a secrecy clause. But who
could guarantee no leaking?

I made a million bucks out of it, and my father told everyone this must be
the most lucrative pro bono case in history, because he and his team made
more than two and a half million out of this, and didn't have to do much
work either.

I heard from some of the ex-pupils from both schools that the principals
resigned within the space of one month after Ross' acquittal.

As for Ross, he is splitting his time 50/50 with his mother and father, he
has enrolled into a new school, and he is doing well, and his future is
secured with the payout from the church.

Me? My most favorite sex play is Ben in his commando uniform.


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