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Conscience Magazine

New York archdiocese offers compensation for abuse survivors

December 20, 2016

On October 6, the New York Archdiocese launched a new compensation program “to pay victims of clergy abuse of minors,” according to the archdiocese’s website. The Associated Press reports that this compensation program would be available to people who were “sexually abused by priests or deacons and are willing to forego lawsuits in exchange for an award to be determined by an independent mediator.”

People with pending abuse claims have until January 31, 2017 to apply for compensa­tion. The claims will be analyzed by mediators Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinburg, who will ultimately decide on the amount of compensation. Dolan says that the archdiocese plans to “take out a long-term loan to cover compensation payments and would not dip into any funds contributed by church members to support parishes, schools or chari­table works,” according to the Associated Press.

The current state law requires victims to bring charges before they turn 23. Some see Dolan’s program as a response to the proposed Child Victims Act, which would expand statutes of limitations in New York. Codirector of BishopAc­ Anne Barrett Doyle says that the state’s “restrictive statute of limitations has enabled Dolan to hide the true scope of the clergy abuse crisis in the New York archdiocese,” according to the Associated Press. Doyle is also concerned that the archdio­cese’s decision to only review claims against priests or deacons who belong to arch­dioceses allows many “potential abusers” to remain protected, according to the New York Times.

Marci Hamilton, chief executive of CHILD USA, believes that the statute of limitations must be expanded, but this is a good start. According to the Washington Post, Hamilton believes the program “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.”