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With a total of $23,970,000 paid to victims/survivors who were abused as minors by diocesan priests in six California dioceses, the Independent Compensation Program (ICP) for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Diocesan Priests in California is preparing to conclude, having finished processing the last claim.

The announcement was made by the Independent Oversight Committee (IOC), whose members include former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Governor Gray Davis, and business leader and former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet.

The Diocese of San Bernardino was a participant in the ICP, paying 15 claims totaling $2.2 million. Half of that amount was covered through diocesan insurance. Bishop Alberto Rojas offered a brief statement on the occasion of the statewide announcement.

“We are pleased and grateful to have completed our participation in this program to bring healing and reconciliation to victim/survivors of abuse that was begun under Bishop Barnes’ leadership in 2018,” he said. “It has been an effective way to reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse in our diocese and we remain committed to dialogue and transparency with victims/survivors of abuse going forward.

“Let’s continue to pray and care for one another as beloved children of God.”

The ICP was launched in September 2019 to provide any victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a diocesan priest from any of the six participating diocese the opportunity to seek a non-adversarial resolution, regardless of when the abuse occurred. The six participating dioceses are 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 California’s Catholic population.

The program was run by two nationally recognized mediators and private compensation program administrators, Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros. The ICP Administrators were vested with absolute and independent discretion to determine each victim/survivor’s eligibility and settlement offer. While the participating dioceses cooperated with the ICP Administrators, neither the participating dioceses nor the IOC had any authority to overrule the Administrator’s determinations. Participation in the ICP was confidential and voluntary, and participants were not required to have counsel.

However, those that did not have a lawyer were provided one at no charge to ensure they each understood before they accepted the terms of the settlement.

“No settlement alone will ever correct the pain or injustice of childhood sexual abuse. Victims deserve accountability, which is why I signed a law in 2003 reopening the civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse,” said former California Governor Gray Davis. “Reopening the statute of limitations resulted in over $1.2 billion dollars in payouts to victims. In 2020 the State again reopened and extended the civil statute of limitations. Notwithstanding the change in State law, 197 victims/survivors opted for the ICP over civil litigation.”

The program accomplished its intent because of its speed of resolution, confidentiality and transparency of process. Of the total 929 individuals who newly reported as victims registered on the ICP website www.CaliforniaDiocesesICP.com, a total of 580 claims were determined and a total of $23,970,000 in compensation was paid out by all dioceses to 197 individuals.

“I am pleased the ICP was committed to a process that treated all victims/survivors, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, with dignity and compassion,” said former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet. “It was particularly important that the ICP process offered victims/survivors some sense of justice and validation for the inexcusable trauma they endured.”