• Catholic Clergy Abuse - General
    Catholic Clergy Abuse - General
    Dr Viv Waller has acted in claims against Catholic Clergy since 1995. Waller Legal has recovered compensation for the victims of Catholic Priests such as Frs Baker, Ridsdale, Kevin O'Donnell, D'Cruz, Gannon, Glennon, Gubbels, Frank Klep, Bernard Day & Pidoto.
  • Catholic Clergy Abuse - Melbourne Response
    Catholic Clergy Abuse - Melbourne Response
    Melbourne Response is an alternative dispute resolution process designed to provide redress to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests, religious and lay persons who fall within the jurisdiction of the Melbourne Archdiocese.
  • Civil Litigation
    Civil Litigation
    Civil Litigation in the County And Supreme Courts of Victoria. In our pursuit of justice for sexual assault survivors Waller Legal has run common law cases for compensation against; Individual offenders such as family members, teachers, doctors, psychologists and religious figures;
  • Claims for Indigenous & Travel to Remote Communities
    Claims for Indigenous & Travel to Remote Communities
    If you have been the victim of a crime of violence or sexual assault then please contact our office so we may assess your application and obtain financial assistance, counselling, medical or other expenses that may help with your recovery.
  • Royal Commission & Redress Schemes
    Royal Commission & Redress Schemes
    Established in January 2013, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating how institutions like schools, churches and sporting groups responded to allegations of child sexual abuse.
  • Sentencing Act Applications
    Sentencing Act Applications
    If you have been the victim of a crime for which the offender was convicted please contact our office urgently. Any Sentencing Act Application for compensation must be made within 12 months of the date of the conviction.
  • State Ward Claims
    State Ward Claims
    Dr Viv Waller has acted for former wards of the state of Victoria since 1997 when she commenced group litigation on behalf of many former residents of the Ballarat Orphanage who were abused in care.
  • Victim of Crimes Assistance Tribunal
    Victim of Crimes Assistance Tribunal
    If you have been the victim of a crime of violence or sexual assault then please contact our office so we may assess your application and obtain financial assistance, counselling, medical or other expenses that may help with your recovery.

Media

Dr Vivian Waller is a solicitor and the principal of Waller Legal, a legal practice dedicated to looking after victims of crime and those who have endured sexual assault or child abuse. She was admitted to legal practice in 1995 and has represented victim/survivors of sexual assault for nearly 20 years.
Vale Anthony Foster
Anthony and Chrissie Foster preparing for Case Study 16, July 2014
2017-06-09
by Vivian Waller

Vale Anthony Foster

Anthony and Chrissie Foster’s courage and tenacity has cast light on the dark truth of clerical sexual abuse.

If any father had a good reason to be bitter, resentful, or broken, it was Anthony.  Two of his three beautiful daughters were sexually abused by Father Kevin O’Donnell, with tragic consequences.

Chrissie and Anthony did everything that loving, careful and attentive parents could do to keep their daughters safe.  They walked their girls to and from school.

They couldn’t possibly have imagined that the greatest danger to their girls was the man the Church had installed in the presbytery at their local primary school – even though Father O’Donnell had first been the subject of complaints about child sexual abuse decades earlier in 1958.

Despite every effort by their dedicated parents Emma and Katie never recovered from the abuse they suffered. 

Emma turned to drugs to try and stop the pain she felt.  Her life spiralled out of control. Tragically, Emma took her own life in 2008.

Katie began to binge drink to deal with her own pain.  In 1999 Katie was in a terrible accident, crossing the road while intoxicated. She suffered a brain injury and was hospitalised for a year. For the rest of her life she will need 24-hour attendant care.

This is a story of suffering that was wholly preventable, if the Archdiocese of Melbourne had acted on the 1958 complaint about Father Kevin O’Donnell. 

So much of Anthony’s life was needlessly consumed by worry and struggle.  If only the Church had cared more about children than about their own reputation.

Anthony’s pursuit of justice for his family involved long legal battles with the Church.  It began with attempts to use the Melbourne Response, and later, Supreme Court litigation that the church rigorously and strenuously defended.   

Chrissie and Anthony have been ignored, insulted, and belittled by some within the Church.  They responded with dignity and with determination.

Anthony’s pursuit of justice wasn’t about vengeance, it wasn’t about punishment. It was about helping others.

He was driven by the desire to see justice for sexual assault survivors, and to make sure this monumental failure of care by the church, and the extensive cover-up of that failure, came to an end.   

Anthony was not bitter, resentful, or broken.  His is a story of the triumph of love over corruption.  He was protective of his family and strong in their defence, but also nurturing, gracious, generous and loving.   He was the light and the compassion in any room.   The firestorm of tragedy never eroded his love or respect for his wife Chrissie and theirs has been a most enduring, sacred, and loving bond.  His deep love for his family only enlarged his ability to care for, and about, others.

Despite the catastrophe that consumed their family Chrissie and Anthony retained the strength and grace to be effective advocates for others. 

Anthony was a hero and a helping hand to many, the very model of what a man should be. He cared deeply about other children and families affected by abuse.  He stood in the face of unimaginable suffering and was gracious.  He bore witness.   He had great personal integrity.  He was gentle but strong. He was selfless.   He was dedicated to doing all he could to help.  He was the very embodiment of everything the Church should be, but isn’t.

Anthony’s broader efforts resulted in the Parliamentary Inquiry in Victoria and the Child Abuse Royal Commission.  

To represent Chrissie and Anthony in the Child Abuse Royal Commission was a great privilege. To know Anthony as a friend has been a great honour.

During case study No 50 Chrissie, Anthony and I had dinner in Sydney and reflected on how far we had come.   Somehow, we had tackled the seemingly unassailable.  Anthony reflected on his first phone call to me nearly ten years earlier where we’d come up with a “wish list” – and that one item that seemed impossible was on that list – a Royal Commission.  He told me he still had his notes from our first talk.   I’m glad my kindred spirit got to see the conclusion of the Catholic Case Studies. In that regard, he went out on high note with a major item ticked off the list.

My last celebration with Anthony was at the conclusion of case study No 50.  We celebrated how far we had come. Anthony and Chrissie had sat through 108 days of the Royal Commission hearings.  It had been gruelling.  That very day there had been tears.  But that night a few champagnes and a lot of laughs led to Chrissie and Anthony missing their flight home to Melbourne.

Anthony never lost sight of the ordinary joys of life - being a father and a grandfather, finding joy in every day, laughing, being busy and enjoying time with Chrissie, family, and friends at their rural weekender.

At Anthony’s beside on that fateful day in late May, the great and loving force of nature stilled, I said my goodbyes.  As I rested my hand on his I made a silent promise. 

I will not rest.

And I know a lot of others who won’t give up the fight either.                                        

Rest in peace you beautiful man, you have done more than your fair share of caring and heavy lifting.  You leave a lasting legacy. Your fight is done, but your work continues.

 

 

Back To Top
Call Waller Legal