Church-abuse victims can seek compensation
Victims of clergy sex abuse willing to forego lawsuits against New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese can seek compensation through a new church fund announced Thursday, but any records of such abuse and what the church did about problem priests will remain private.
The program will be led by Kenneth Feinberg, who managed the federal compensation fund for Sept. 11 victims, with oversight by former New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly, among others.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York archbishop, said he created the fund because victims have said they need “a tangible sign of the church’s outreach and sense of reparation.”
“The wounds of many continue to fester, and they understandably tell us they await more compassion,” said Dolan, flanked by Feinberg and Kelly, at a news conference in the archdiocese’s Manhattan offices.
The archdiocese announced the program at a time when victim advocates are pressing New York legislators to expand or temporarily abolish time limits on lawsuits over child sex abuse.
In other states that have done away with those time limits, lawsuits filed by victims have forced church leaders to release thousands of internal church files revealing how bishops sheltered abusers. The litigation has resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements for hundreds of victims and prompted some dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts-based advocacy group that maintains records of clergy abuse, called the New York fund “another tactic designed to fend off disclosure.”