Bishop Robert Cunningham reflects on how the church has evolved in its handling of child sex abuse. On Dec. 3, 2018, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse released a list of 57 priests with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them. Lauren Long | [email protected]
The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has paid nearly $11 million to settle claims with 79 sex abuse victims, according to a report released today.
Those who accepted signed releases that prohibit them from filing lawsuits. Kevin Braney declined compensation and recently sued the diocese after New Yorks Legislature expanded the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases in January.
The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program was administered by New York City lawyers Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, who have handled victims funds after tragedies including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Bishop Robert Cunningham announced the program in February 2018. It was initially expected to conclude in the fall, but officials said some victims took additional time to decide whether to accept offers by the IRCP.
A total of 88 people applied to the program for compensation. Program administrators made offers to 85 claimants, and 79 accepted the offers. Victims who took the offers signed releases that prohibit them from filing lawsuits.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has released a list of priests who faced credible allegations of abuse.
Just four claimants did not respond to their offers, and two victims declined compensation altogether. That includes Kevin Braney, who recently filed a lawsuit against the diocese. Braney and others were only able to sue in New York state after the Legislature passed the Child Victims Act in January, expanding the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases.
Church officials wrote in a report that the entire program cost about $12.5 million. About $1.5 million was for administrative costs, according to the report. Compensation cost $10,922,500.
By comparison, the Diocese of Ogdensburg — which has publicly named 28 priests as abusers — paid out about $5.5 million to 37 victims, according to a report by The Watertown Daily Times. Feinberg and Biros also oversaw that program. They have administered programs in New York dioceses of Manhanttan, Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, as well as in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Most of those programs are newer than Syracuses, and have not provided a total amount for the claims paid out.
Only people who had reported clergy sex abuse to the diocese prior to the start of the program were allowed to participate, according to the report. Those people were invited by letter to apply. Feinberg and Biros made independent determination as to whether each individual was eligible, and the award amounts.
Officials did not provide a range or breakdown of the offers made to individuals. Administrator Camille Biros and Syracuse Chancellor Danielle Cummings have both declined to answer questions about individual cases or priests.
Two victims who provided copies of the letters they received as part of the program were offered $5,000 and $300,000.
The IRCP was funded through the dioceses self-insurance. Because the diocese does not have third-party insurance, it creates its own fund to pay for liabilities, including the claims settled through the program. Though the insurance fund is in part made up of revenue collected through parishes, officials said the diocese did not otherwise use donations given to parishes, schools, the annual HOPE appeal, Catholic Restoration Fund, Catholic Charities or other charitable funds to fund the program for victims.
Although no amount of money can heal the wounds of child sexual abuse, the IRCP was designed to acknowledge publicly the mistakes made by the Church in the past and to offer victims a tangible sign of the Churchs desire for healing and reconciliation.
Braney is seeking other remedies for his childhood abuse: He wants church reforms, including the Syracuse diocese to publicly name all the priests who it has determined committed sex acts against children.
The settlements do not prohibit any victims from talking about their case. We want to hear your story. Contact Public Affairs Reporter Julie McMahon: 315-412-1992 | Email | Twitter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has paid nearly $11 million to settle claims of clergy sexual abuse with 79 people, who are now prohibited from suing.
The Post-Standard reports 85 of the 88 people who had applied to the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program received offers.
Those who accepted signed releases that prohibit them from filing lawsuits. Kevin Braney declined compensation and recently sued the diocese after New York's Legislature expanded the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases in January.
In December, the diocese listed 57 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. None were in active ministry.
The diocese paid the settlements through its own liability fund. The diocese says charitable donations were not funneled to the fund.