LA ARCHDIOCESE TO PARTICIPATE IN NEW INDEPENDENT COMPENSATION PROGRAM IN CALIFORNIA FOR VICTIMS OF ABUSE AS MINORS BY PRIESTS
Today, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles along with five other California Catholic dioceses announced their participation in a new initiative in California to provide pastoral care and financial support to victim-survivors of sexual abuse as minors by priests, the Independent Compensation Program for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests (ICP). The California Catholic Conference (CCC) made the announcement in Sacramento on behalf of the participating Catholic dioceses, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento, that join the program as part of a long-standing commitment to supporting victims of abuse, the protection of children and the vulnerable, and the prevention of abuse and misconduct in Catholic parishes, schools and ministries.
The CCC explained that the program is independent from Church control. Nationally recognized mediators and private compensation program administrators, Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros will adapt and administer the program. Feinberg and Biros are running similar abuse compensation programs covering Catholic dioceses in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado. The program will also be overseen by an independent oversight board that includes former Governor Gray Davis and business leader and former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet.
In a letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese, Archbishop José H. Gomez emphasized the Archdiocese’s commitment to “remain vigilant in our efforts to protect children, report abuse and reach out to support victim-survivors.”
“We have been providing pastoral care and financial support for victim-survivors here in the Archdiocese for many years,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We will continue to do so. But we also understand that some victim-survivors are reluctant to come to the Church for assistance. Our hope with this new program is to give these people a chance to seek redress and healing through an independent program.”
The CCC explained that under the program, Feinberg and Biros will have complete autonomy to determine the eligibility of individual claims, and they alone will determine the amount of compensation offered to any victim. The six dioceses will be reaching out to victims who have previously reported allegations of abuse to alert them to this new program. The program is open to a broader range than are eligible to pursue claims in civil courts. Those 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. In addition, the program has no proof-of-citizenship requirement, so undocumented immigrants are eligible to make claims. Victim-survivors do not need to have a lawyer to participate, and there are no fees for participating. Settlements for fully completed claims will be paid within 90 days.
“Again, I apologize to the victims of priest sexual abuse and express my deep sorrow and regret for our past failures and the trust that was broken,” added Archbishop Gomez. “I realize, as you do, that no program, however well-intentioned and well-designed, can repair the damage done to victims and their families. But I pray that this new program might provide another avenue toward healing and hope.”
Feinberg and Biros have been working with the Archdiocese and the other five dioceses since last fall to establish the program and will be announcing the start date of the application process in the coming weeks. Documents with additional information on the program are available in English at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/california-catholic-dioceses-announce-new-compensation-program-for-abuse-victims-300849889.html and in Spanish at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/las-diocesis-catolicas-de-california-anuncian-nuevo-programa-de-indemnizacion-para-las-victimas-de-abuso-885950391.html.
To request media interviews with Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, please contact Amy Weiss at (202) 203-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For Spanish language media requests, please contact Christina Sanchez at (310) 420-1135 or email@example.com.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles adheres to a strict Zero-Tolerance policy that bars anyone whether clergy or layperson from serving in any capacity if they are found to have abused a minor. Allegations of misconduct against a minor are reported to law enforcement, and the accused is removed from serving in any capacity pending the outcome of the investigation. Announcements are also made at the parish and/or school where the accused served. In addition, the Archdiocese has established abuse reporting and prevention education programs that provide training for more than 170,000 students at Catholic schools each year, and over the past 15 years, have trained more than 320,000 adults.
For more information on the Archdiocese’s efforts to support victims and prevent abuse, visit protect.la-archdiocese.org.
Letter from Archbishop Gomez is available in English: https://protect.la-archdiocese.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/14May2018-Letter-from-Archbishop-Gomez-with-Links.pdf and Spanish: https://protect.la-archdiocese.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/14May2018-letter-from-archbishop-gomez-final-spanish-with-links.pdf.