LOS ANGELES—Former Governor Gray Davis, a member of the Independent Oversight Committee (“IOC”) overseeing the work of the Independent Compensation Program (“ICP”) for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests, announced 427 people have come forward to the independent program that six participating California Catholic dioceses, including the Diocese of San Bernardino, started in September. The ICP is aimed at compensating victim-survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests in those dioceses.
At a Jan. 21 IOC meeting, program administrators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros reported to the IOC, which also includes former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and business leader and former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet. Committee members expressed satisfaction with the program’s success to date.
“It is clear that the ICP is succeeding in achieving its objective, empowering victim-survivors with another option to pursue justice and healing,” Gov. Davis said. “There has been a high level of interest and we are seeing victim-survivors being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. ICP settlements are typically paid within 90-120 days, which is significantly faster than years of litigation. Moreover, in the ICP process victims have unilateral control over their own confidentiality, and they are free to share as much or as little about their claim as they wish.”
Once registered, claims determined potentially eligible will have until March 31 to file for compensation.
At their Jan. 21 meeting, the IOC also heard from its appointed Victims Advocate Advisor, Susan F. Moan Hardie, RN, Ph.D., who is experienced in the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse. Dr. Hardie has a master’s degree in Psychiatric and Community Mental Health Nursing, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in education and child development.
Dr. Hardie is the former Director of Stuart House, a multidisciplinary forensic interview, treatment and advocacy center for sexually abused children in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Hardie is available to help victim-survivors who have completed the ICP process with referrals to support services. The committee also heard presentations from two additional professionals specializing in childhood sexual abuse trauma and treatment.
Since the ICP’s launch, approximately four months ago, 85 victim-survivors have already filed claims. At a press time, the Diocese of San Bernardino had paid two claims totaling $175,000. Payment of two additional claims was pending. A total of 21 people from the Diocese registered into the program. The deadline to register into the ICP is now Feb. 29; the deadline to file a claim is March 31.
Feinberg and Biros described the allegations of abuse received by the ICP as largely historic in nature, many dating back several decades. They have thus far completed the final processing of 61 of the 85 claims and authorized $3.94 million to 39 victim-survivors. Further compensation offers will be made in the months ahead, and the hundreds of registrations confirms that the number of compensated victims will increase dramatically as the program continues, according to Feinberg and Biros.
In their report, Feinberg and Biros also stressed the program’s effectiveness, noting that only one claimant has rejected the compensation offered. All others have chosen to accept the offers made.
The ICP was launched in September 2019 to provide victim-survivors of child sexual abuse by a diocesan priest the opportunity to seek restitution from the participating dioceses of Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Together, the participating dioceses comprise more than 10 million Catholics, or about 80 percent of the Catholic population in the State of California.
The program is independent of Church control and open to anyone who has been abused in the past by priests of these dioceses, no matter when that abuse might have occurred. Feinberg and Biros, nationally recognized administrators, have complete autonomy to assess the eligibility of individual claims and determine compensation amounts. The dioceses have pledged to pay whatever sum that Feinberg and Biros determine is appropriate in each case.
For more information and to register to file a complaint visit: www.californiadiocesesicp.com.
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