Catholic Dioceses launch child abuse program
Bishop Jaime Soto of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento released a list of priests credibly accused of child abuse in the diocese on April 30. Courtesy Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento Catholic California Independent Compensation
Bishop Jaime Soto of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento released a list of priests credibly accused of child abuse in the diocese on April 30. Courtesy Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento
Catholic California Independent Compensation Program for child abuse victims begins filing claims
LOS ANGELES — Child abuse victims of Catholic diocesan priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino and San Diego, have launched a process for filing claims with the California Independent Compensation Program (ICP).
Independent from church control, ICP will be overseen by an Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) consisting of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former California Governor Gray Davis, and business leader, and Maria Contreras-Sweet, former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration,
Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, nationally known compensation program administrators, have been working with the California Bishops since last November to design the program.
Individuals who have previously notified the Dioceses of allegations of abuse will be sent ICP Claim packets; individuals who have not previously notified the Dioceses of allegations of abuse will be able to register with the program for an initial eligibility review. Eligible victims may file claims, regardless of when the abuse might have occurred.
“This important program is a necessary response to historic claims of child sexual abuse in the participating dioceses,” Panetta said, “[Now], it is required that every new claim of abuse must be reported to law enforcement which will lead to the prosecution of those who have abused children. Although the ICP will zealously protect the privacy of any confidential information voluntarily provided by victims to the administrators, victims are free to discuss their history of abuse and their experience with this program.”
Panetta added, “The administrators and IOC will periodically issue reports regarding the number of claims filed with the program and the amount of compensation provided to those victims. The purpose of the IOC is to oversee the effectiveness of the program and ensure that it is administered entirely independent of the church. Our goal is to make sure that the public can have faith in the fairness and integrity of the ICP.”
Feinberg and Biros are administering similar compensation programs for child victims of abuse covering Catholic dioceses in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado.
The six participating Dioceses comprise more than 10 million Catholics, about 80 percent of the state’s Catholic population.
Former California governor Gray Davis said he signed legislation giving victims of child sexual abuse more time to file legal claims.
“That legislation also revived claims that were previously barred by the statute of limitations,” Davis said. “Victim-survivors of sexual abuse have already endured tremendous pain. For some, facing that anguish again in a public trial is a burden too heavy to shoulder. That is why I support this voluntary, private, and non-adversarial Independent Compensation Program as an alternative, regardless of when the abuse occurred.”
The ICP website can be found at www.CaliforniaDiocesesICP.com. The final Protocol and Frequently Asked Questions are available on the website.
Feinberg and Biros will have complete independence to determine the eligibility of individual claims and they alone will determine the amount of compensation offered to any victim. The Dioceses have agreed to abide by Feinberg and Biros’ decisions and the compensation determinations are not subject to appeal by the victim or the Dioceses.
The six Dioceses will be contacting victims who have previously reported allegations of abuse to alert them to this new program. In addition, the program will invite others who may have been abused as minors, but have not previously reported the abuse, to come forward and register with the program.
This new program is open to a broader range of persons than are eligible to pursue claims in civil courts. Those minors harmed many years ago and barred from filing lawsuits because of civil statutes of limitations will be eligible to make claims under this new program. Also, because this program has no proof-of-citizenship requirement, undocumented persons who may have been abused as minors are also eligible to make claims.
Unlike civil litigation in the courts, this new program provides a process that is non-adversarial and protects victims’ privacy. Victim-survivors do not need to retain a lawyer to participate and there are no fees for participating. Compensation for fully completed and documented claims can usually be paid within 90-120 days.
“No amount of money will provide closure to victims. But the program is a small step in helping victims secure some degree of financial security,” Feinberg said. “A claimant who for years, decades, may have been ignored, now has a program where that claim will
The participating Dioceses serve 80 percent of California’s Catholic population. The Participating Dioceses will fund all compensation offers made by the ICP Administrators, but otherwise have no say in the amount of compensation offered to any victim, or in the operation or administration of the ICP. The ICP is entirely independent of Church control;
The Independent Compensation Program Frequently Asked Questions and Program Protocols documents are available for download at the following link below: