Fund For Catholic Church Abuse Victims
Archdiocese to Set Up Fund for Catholic Church Abuse Victims
In lieu of recent events regarding the Catholic church sex scandals, some progress. The Archdiocese in Pennsylvania has announced plans to make funds available for victims of Catholic church sex abuse. The fund is named The Survivors’ Compensation Program.
Survivors’ Compensation Fund
The fund is intended for victims to gain justice who have survived sexual abuse at the hands of the church clergy. The church purposely hid information from law enforcement and the public. Sadly, Catholic church sex abuse was enabled for decades.
Catholic Church Sex Abuse
In August, the grand jury released a report that marks decades of horrific child sexual abuse cases within the church. There are over 300 priests and clergy members involved.
Pennsylvania Survivors’ Compensation Fund
The Archdiocese in Pennsylvania is following in the footsteps of the New York Archdiocese. The New York Archdiocese paid over $40 million to at least 189 victims of catholic church sex abuse. The fund has been set up for victims using several sources. Sources included reserves, church property sales, multiple insurers, borrowing, and investments.
Harrisburg Bishop Ronald W. Gainer stated, “The resources for this program will not be coming from the money that is generously donated to local parishes and to the Diocese.” But, if you think about it, where did the money come from to build reserves or afford the investments? As of now, we are unaware of the total amount this fund provides for the victims. The total fund amount will be announced later in the year.
Attempt To Change The Law
There was a legislative attempt to permit victims an extra 2 years to come forward. This would allow victims to sue clergy members that partook in the child sex abuses. But, Republican senators rejected this attempt. The legislation was set to provide civil avenues to the older victims that were abused by church clergy members. As of now, victims beyond the statute may have no legal recourse.
Survivors’ Fund Pros:
The victims of these heinous crimes deserve any and all treatment necessary to repair the damage of their experience. They deserve compensation at the expense of those who have caused them harm. This includes clergy and the Catholic church.
Bishop David Zubik expressed, “The survivors’ compensation program we are working to establish will be designed to create the best opportunity for recovery and healing to survivors. They continue to suffer as a result of their abuse and this program will help to provide for their ongoing needs.”
Many believe the quality of life will improve with the compensation fund. It may provide relief and recognition for the pain caused to the victims. Many victims feel shame regarding sexual abuse. Additionally, many victims never come forward. The fund allows for some victims to feel safe and gain restitution for the abuse they have endured.
Victims will receive money from the fund to assist in their healing processes. Since many cases are beyond the statute of limitations, it could be the only option for some. The fund may be a better option than going to trial; there is no guarantee a jury will award the verdict to the victim.
Survivors Fund Cons:
First, victims need to trust the same church that victimized them for years. We don’t recommend this without consulting a lawyer.
If Catholic church abuse victims intend to partake in receiving funds, there is a catch. They must sign away their right to sue the church. In essence, the victims are “taking a settlement” instead of filing a claim against the church in civil court. A settlement agreement will be signed on behalf of the victim to give up all rights to sue in the future.
Additionally, if an abuse victim has already filed a lawsuit against a clergy member, they will not be eligible to receive more funding from the new program. Also, if the “window to justice” legislation is passed by state lawmakers, the funding program will be dissolved.
Some abuse victims are in their 70s and 80s and cannot make it through the entire legal court process. Others fear suicides will occur at the reliving of the abuse. In conjunction, there is currently no legal alternative for some. Survivors beyond age 30 have no other options for help.
People believe the fund is also more of a “band-aid” or cover up. The church acknowledges one crime and pays restitution to hide thousands of additional crimes. This fund may silence further abuse that has yet to be uncovered. Additionally, this opens the door to clergy that would victimize more children.
Survivors’ Fund Legal Help
Those considering applying for funds should speak to an experienced lawyer before they sign any terms to receive funds. Why? A lawyer can help you understand any rights you might be giving up to receive help from the fund. Additionally, you’ll want to understand exactly what you agree to before you sign. Don’t become the victim twice.
Pennsylvania Institutional Sex Abuse Law Firm
If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse due to a church clergy member, our lawyers at Kane & Silverman can help. Institutional sexual abuse cases are complex and deal with a difficult subject matter. We can help you understand your options and plan the best course of action for you. Call or text us today at 215-232-1000 to speak to a professional member of our legal staff. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer by filling out our online contact form.
Our lawyers provide free and confidential consultations. Additionally, there is no charge for our legal services unless we recover money for you.