California and New Jersey Next in Line for Priest Abuse Settlement Programs Following New York and Pennsylvania
California Dioceses are set to open a clergy sexual abuse victim compensation program in September of 2019. Victims of priest abuse in the following Dioceses may be eligible for financial settlements: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento — collectively covering more than 10 million Catholics, or about 80% of the state's Catholics. These dioceses join others in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who are offering or have offered adults sexually abused as children an opportunity to participate in a voluntary settlement program without having to go to court. Once an offer is accepted, the final agreement and release does not preclude the victim from discussing the award or its terms and the information provided in support of the claim is traditionally confidential in these programs.
Why You Need A Lawyer
The Diocese Hotlines are staffed by either attorneys or victim assistance coordinators who document what you tell them when you call for support. Be aware that they document what you tell them which could be used against you to contradict what you file. I have had victims call Diocesan Hotlines for support only to have the conversation they had documented and used against them at a later date. Don't make the mistake of of not calling me before you call the Diocese to report your abuse or before filing a claim!
I am a social worker and an attorney and understand how difficult it is to talk about what happened to you but because of my background I am able to help you maximize your claim.
Who Administers the Programs?
Mr. Kenneth Feinberg and Ms. Camille Biros have been the independent administrators for most of the programs. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros have vast experience in administering voluntary compensation programs. They were the independent administrators of the World Trade Center compensation program. I have worked with clients from each of the Dioceses and found Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros highly competent and they have treated claimants with fairness, respect and dignity.
Some advocates have criticized the Diocese settlement programs and characterized them as merely a liability limiting strategy designed to derail potential future court claims if laws are changed to give sex crime victims a look back window to bring civil actions against their abusers without a reach back limit.
We all now know that there were many sexual predators who were never brought to justice but instead were protected and shuffled around to different assignments where they continued to victimize children who were then systematically silenced through threats and intimidation. The Church hierarchy put her monetary interests above all and critics say that the settlement programs are just par for the course.
Whether the settlement programs were aimed at reducing liability or not, the programs have given men who would have never stepped foot in a courtroom an opportunity to tell their story and an opportunity to receive justice confidentially. One of my clients is 87 years old and participated in the program.
Catholic Church settlement programs have afforded eligible claimants an opportunity to receive the justice that even a change in law may not be able to afford victims. Programs should be expanded to include religious order priests.
Call me today to start your claim (844) LAHEARN