NEW YORK — The Roman Catholic Archdioces of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan is seeking compensation for victims of child sex abuse, by clergy leaders. This will be the first action of this kind to date in the Unites States.
Victims of sex abuse can opt out of a lawsuit in favor of a direct settlement performed by a mediator. This compensation is similar to the system implemented by New York State for other institutions, such as schools. Kenneth Feinberg has been hired by the Archdiocese, who has found compensation for victims of Sept. 11, 2001, the BP Oil Spill, Orlando Night Club Shooting and Boston Marathon Bombing.
Sex Abuse Victims by clergy leaders, who have already issued complaints, would have to file for compensation by the end of January with this new plan. Before new laws are passed by New York State legislature, the Archiocese plan suggests a quiet way to settle cases before these laws come to pass, thereby saving the Archdiocese potentially more lawsuits with greater compensation.
Under current statute of limitations, victims must file lawsuits by the time they reach the age of 23, making New York one of the strictest and conservative States in the Country in regards to charges of this kind. Victims of Sex Abuse and other advocates have been pushing for extensions to these statutes of limitations for some time now.
A sexual abuse expert representing hundreds of survivors, Marci Hamilton, had this to say, “It’s a good addition, but it can’t be a substitution for statute of limitations reform”. Marcy Hamilton serves as chief executive and academic director for CHILD USA and has also said, “The Archdiocese’s plan should be reserved for victims who do not want to go to court”.
Cardinal Dolan has been quoted calling the sex abuse cases, “a nauseating crime” which has “gravely wounded us in the Church”. The Catholic Church and Pope Francis have been working hard to implement a “year of mercy” and was the primary goal of the compensation initiative. No dollar amount in regards to victims compensation has been determined yet.
Co-director, Anne Barrett Doyle, is spearheading BishopAccountability.org, a church transparency advocacy group. In an recent email, she was quoted, “isn’t mercy, it’s strategy”.
The Boston Archdiocese has compensated over 1000 victims, 570 in Milwaukee, 508 in Los Angeles and 169 in Portland as well, according to Cardinal Doyle. If New York legislation passes the Child Victims Act, hundreds of abusive priests and nuns will have their identities exposed and made public. Additional victims will probably come forward at that time as well, Cardinal Doyle has expressed. According to BishopAccountability.org, 77 clerics have had charges put on them publicly.
Doyle has said, “Ultimately, this move is aimed at keeping the public in the dark about the true scope of the Catholic abuse crisis in New York”.
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese, says the archdiocese is aware of 170 current potential victims, but any number may come forward seeking compensation.
The statute of limitations has been debated on by Lawmakers in Albany, which of course have been opposed by Catholic Church leadership. Giving victims one year to file civil lawsuits has been the proposed statute of limitation.
The archdiocese has remarked that it will take out a long-term loan to compensate current victims.