What to Know
- The Archdiocese of New York said it is setting up a compensation process for more than 170 survivors of past clergy abuses.
- The program will be administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw funds following 9/11 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- SNAP, a network of survivors of clergy abuse, said in a statement it was "not pleased with the announcement"
The Archdiocese of New York will create a compensation program for people who were abused by Catholic clergymen in the past, Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced on Thursday.
In a news release Thursday, the archdiocese said that it will take about four months for the more than 170 survivors to come forward to have their claims for compensation reviewed.
The archdiocese said it has already started contacting survivors who had previously told the church that they had been abused by the clergy. Others have until Jan. 31 to apply for compensation.
Dolan called sex abuse by priests "nauseating" and said it's a sin that has "gravely wounded the church."
"The program we are establishing today will, please God, help bring a measure of peace and healing to those who have suffered abuse by a member of the clergy of this archdiocese," he said in a statement.
The program will be administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who served as a mediator of the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Feinberg and fellow mediator Camille Biros will have complete autonomy in deciding compensation for abuse survivors, the archdiocese said.
A special oversight committee will be set up to review the program, the archdiocese announced. Among its members is former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, U.S. District Judge Loretta Presk and Columbia University psychiatry professor Dr. Jeanette Cueva.
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There will be no cap on compensation or a statue of limitations on the claims, the archdiocese said. The compensation fund will be paid for with a long-term loan, the archdiocese said.
As with a similar fund set up after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, who accept compensation cannot sue the church.
Some advocates for sex abuse victims immediately assailed the program as an attempt to squash 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.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an independent network of survivors of clergy abuse, said in a statement that compensation needs to be determined by independent sources, such as judges and juries.
The group's executive director, David Clohessy, said that Dolan's announcement is also "short circuiting" legislative reform on the statue of limitations.
"We are not pleased with announcement," Clohessy said.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, an advocacy group that collects records on abusive priests, said in an email that New York's "restrictive statute of limitations has enabled Dolan to hide the true scope of the clergy abuse crisis in the NY archdiocese."
"His proposed victims' compensation fund is another tactic designed to fend off disclosure," she said.
New York 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.
The 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. Victims 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.