NY Archdiocese Unveils Compensation Program For Victims Sexually Abused By Clergy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan has announced a new program designed to bring peace to victims of sexual abuse from clergy members of the Archdiocese of New York.

The “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program,” led by mediator Kenneth Feinberg and associate Camile Biros, will work with victims who have reported sexual abuse, as well as review new cases of abuse if and when they are reported.

“I 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. “But, you also tell me that more outreach needs to be done to the victim-survivors. I hope this helps.”

Victims will be offered payments from a fund administered by Feinberg, who oversaw compensation for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, CBS2 reported. 

According to Feinberg, the program will begin with the 150 previous claims against dozens of priests, and that he has the final say, 1010 WINS Al Jones reported.

“Whatever the cost as to individual claims and aggregate claims, the archdiocese will honor its commitment to make those payments,” Feinberg said.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports the fund is expected to pay out millions.

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Jeanette Cueva, M.D will also serve on an independent oversight committee to track the progress of the program.

The committee will also work to crack down on fraudulent claims in the protection of their clergy.

“While 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. 

Dolan said there is no cap on compensation and any new cases will be handed over to the local district attorney.

Critics, including the victim advocacy group SNAP, say Dolan is doing too little, too late.

“Any way you can help a survivor is a good thing. What’s important is to make sure these crimes don’t continue to happen and that’s not what we’re seeing,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP.

Dolan pointed to progress and “zero tolerance” for abusive priests and a policy to name names in the archdiocese newspaper Catholic New York.

Pope Francis has also previously asked sexual abuse victims for their forgiveness.

Several area priests have been removed from their duties following reports of abuse this year.

In late September, former Pearl River priest Monsignor John O’Keefe was removed by the Archdiocese of New York after being accused of sexual abuse.

In May, Father James Williams, former president of Chaminade High School on Long Island, was suspended after reports of sexual abuse were deemed credible.

According to Dolan, the program will not be paid for by Church donations, but through loans, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported. It was not immediately known where or from whom the money for the program would be loaned from.

Cardinal Dolan is urging anyone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse from a clergy member to contact their district attorney, or email the archdiocese victim assistance coordinator at victimassistance@archny.org.

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