According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced recently that it has gone live with its program to compensate victims of clergy sex abuse.
Claims can be submitted to the diocese by “both claimants who are already known to the diocese and to those who have never come forward previously,” according to a statement by the diocese.
The program, which participants can enroll in voluntarily, is independent of the diocese and is being administered by mediators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, who lead a Washington, D.C.-based team with experience administering similar funds to compensate sexual abuse victims in other dioceses as well as at Penn State. Their experience also includes handling compensation funds for such things as the 9/11 attacks, mass shootings and the BP oil spill.
They will be representing Pittsburgh and six other Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses that have announced plans for compensation funds for victims, including those who cannot currently sue for damages because the abuse happened too long ago under the statute of limitations.
The funds come in the wake of a withering state grand jury report, released in August. It said more than 300 priests, including at least 90 in Pittsburgh, were accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 victims over seven decades in six dioceses.
In Pittsburgh, compensation will be limited to those who were sexually abused by diocesan priests or deacons, not by lay employees or members of religious orders working for the diocese. Also not eligible are victims who have already reached financial settlements with the diocese.
“For many survivors, it’s not necessarily only about compensation,” said nationally recognized sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman. “Predator priests and their enabling institutions must be held accountable. Victims and future generations of children deserve nothing less than full disclosure on the church’s part,” said Jeff.