The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced a compensation program Thursday for who are willing to forego lawsuits in exchange for an award to be determined by an independent mediator.
sin, one crime, one scandal has gravely wounded us in the church, the
sexual abuse of young people by clergy,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in
unveiling the program.
Some advocates for sex abuse victims
assailed the compensation plan as an attempt to quash cases quickly,
before New York’s legislature acts on a proposal to make it easier for
victims to sue over abuse that happened years ago.
Under the plan, people with abuse claims already pending with the archdiocese will have until Jan. 31 to apply for compensation.
said about 200 people have made allegations against about 40 priests,
and 30 of those victims already have agreed to voluntary settlements.
hear from you, my people, that, while still bruised and angry about
this past crisis, you do appreciate very much the reform and progress
that has been made,” Dolan said in a statement Thursday, according to CBS New York. “But, you also tell me that more outreach needs to be done to the victim-survivors. I hope this helps.”
second phase starting Feb. 1 will be open to new applicants, who will
be asked for supporting documentation such as evidence that they
complained about the abuse at the time it occurred.
Mediators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros will evaluate the claims and decide who will be paid.
will be no cap on compensation, and the archdiocese has agreed to pay
whatever amount Feinberg and Biros order. Each complaint will be shared
with the relevant district attorney for possible prosecution, Dolan
Feinberg served a similar role in deciding compensation for
victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has also helped mediate claims in
the Pennsylvania State University sex abuse scandal and overseen funds
for the victims of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting, the Boston
Marathon bombing and the BP oil spill.
His involvement didn’t assuage church critics.
A representative of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests blasted the plan as “too little, too late.”
Barrett Doyle, co-director of Massachusetts-based
BishopAccountability.org, an advocacy group that collects records on
abusive priests, said New York’s “restrictive statute of limitations has
enabled Dolan to hide the true scope of the clergy abuse crisis in the
NY archdiocese.” She wrote in an email, “His proposed victims’
compensation fund is another tactic designed to fend off disclosure.”
The committee will also work to crack down on fraudulent claims in the protection of their clergy, CBS New York reported.
the goal of this program is to promote healing for victim-survivors, we
must also be concerned with protecting the rights of our clergy
throughout the process,” Dolan said in a statement.
state lawmakers have long debated extending the statute of limitations
on suing child sex abusers or creating a window of opportunity for past
victims to file civil suits against abusers. Such proposals have faced
strong opposition from the Catholic Church and other institutions.
leading proposal in the Legislature would eliminate the statute of
limitations for several child sexual abuse crimes going forward and
create a one-year window for past victims to file civil suits.
now have until they turn 23 to file lawsuits, but supporters say it can
take years before victims step forward.
In May, an attempt by supporters
in the state Senate to force a vote on the measure failed.
Hamilton, the CEO of CHILD USA, a think tank dedicated to preventing
child abuse and neglect, said the compensation program announced
Thursday does not eliminate the need for legislative action on the
statute of limitations but it will nonetheless provide “another pathway
“It is a smart way to increase access to some kind
of compensation for victims who probably wouldn’t be able to handle the
rigors of the legal system,” Hamilton said.
Dolan said the
archdiocese would take out a long-term loan to cover compensation
payments and would not dip into funds contributed by church members to
support parishes, schools or charitable works.