Diocese Paid 17 Claims Under New Initiative
The Diocese of Scranton paid 17 victims of clergy child sexual abuse almost $2.2 million during the first 90 days of a special initiative to compensate survivors, the diocese said Friday.
In all, more than 100 individuals, including 54 people who had not previously reported abuse to the diocese, submitted claims to the Independent Survivors Compensation Program during the period, the diocese said.
“We know that no amount of money will be able to take away the pain that a survivor of sexual abuse has faced, but I was pleased to learn from the administrators that, in just a few short months, the program has been able to bring swift justice for many victims,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said in a statement.
The diocese launched its program Jan. 22, five months after the release of a statewide grand jury report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Scranton and five other Pennsylvania dioceses.
The diocese publicly identified 81 individuals, mostly former diocesan priests but also members of religious communities and lay people, who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.
During the first three months of the program, 49 claims by individuals who had previously reported abuse were submitted to Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, the nationally recognized experts who are administering the diocesan compensation program.
The diocese said Feinberg and Biros completed their review of about two-thirds of those claims and sent determination letters containing compensation offers totaling $3.64 million to 31 survivors, including the 17 people who accepted and received just under $2.2 million.
The other 14 claimants have not indicated if they will accept the offers, the diocese said. No offers have been rejected.
Of the 54 individuals who have come forward with allegations of abuse that were not previously known to the diocese, 51 have been accepted into the compensation program and one remains under consideration, the diocese said.
Two prospective claimants were deemed ineligible under the program criteria — one who was not a minor and another who was not subjected to sexual abuse.
Diocesan spokesman Eric Deabill said the vast majority of the new claims involved clergy already listed among the diocese’s credibly accused individuals.
Under program guidelines, victims reporting previously undocumented abuse must first file a report with the appropriate county district attorney’s office summarizing the allegations.
The pace of the program to date has been about what the diocese expected, Deabill said.
“The number of claims that have been filed so far certainly compares well with the response rates in similar programs that the administrators have been part of,” he said.
Deabill said an important program deadline is coming in a couple of months.
Survivors who have not previously reported abuse to the diocese must register for the program by July 31 to be eligible to participate, he said. The administrators will process the new claims after they finish processing the previously known claims.
Individuals who previously raised complaints have until Sept. 30 to file a claim, the diocese said.
Contact the writer: