Victims of Pennsylvania Child Sex Abuse by Clergy Can Seek Compensation Through The Survivors’ Compensation / Reparations Fund Program
When the Pennsylvania State Grand Jury report was released earlier this year, it highlighted horrible accounts of child abuse involving more than 300 priests throughout six Dioceses in the State of Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 child victims were uncovered in the report; however, officials believe there are thousands more who are still too afraid to step forward or whose records were lost. In addition to the pedophile priests named in the report, the Grand Jury detailed how the church itself concealed the truth and allowed predatory priests to go unchecked for decades. The six Dioceses in the report included Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. The two other Dioceses in the report, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, were the subjects of earlier Grand Jury Reports, which found similar patterns of child sex abuse.
This Fall, Archbishop Chaput and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia launched an Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program to provide financial support for victims of clergy sexual abuse. In particular, this reparations program seeks to help those whose cases were time-barred from civil litigation. The church will not have any influence or supervision over the program, and supposedly it will be run entirely by independent experts who can provide assistance to survivors in need.
Church officials in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg, and Scranton also unveiled similar Reparations Funds this month as they face heated public scrutiny. For now, the amount of the funds, as well as the length of time victims have to seek compensation, have not been determined. However, Pennsylvania Bishops seem to be modeling their reparations funds after New York Dioceses Fund. Over the last 2 years, New York Dioceses have paid out more than $200 million to more than 1,000 victims.
Filing a Claim for Reconciliation and Reparations Program
Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros will handle and administer all claims submitted to the program. Together, Feinberg and Biros previously served as Administrators for the claims program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the state of New York. Mr. Feinberg also served as Special Master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
The money to fund the program will be obtained from the Archdiocese through the sale of properties. The amount of compensation each survivor will receive has not been determined as of yet. The awards will depend on the age of the child at the time of the abuse, the nature of the abuse, how long the abuse went on, and whether it was a recidivist priest.
If you are a survivor of child sex abuse by a clergy member in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to compensation through the Reconciliation and Reparations Program.
To learn more about your eligibility and legal rights, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Pennsylvania child sex abuse attorney immediately. It is important to understand that child sex abuse survivors who accept payments from the funds will effectively give up their right to sue if the state legislature temporarily lifts the statute of limitations (i.e., passes “window” legislation). As such, it is important to review all of your legal options with your attorney before ultimately choosing the path that is best for you.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Child Sex Abuse Attorneys
The child sex abuse attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have more than 90 years of experience representing Pennsylvania child sex abuse survivors and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties, as well as the state of New Jersey. Contact us today toll-free at 1-855-633-6251 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.