In an attempt to get ahead of legislation that would lift the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases, the Archdiocese of New York has established a settlement program for victims.
The settlement program, spearheaded by independent mediator Kenneth Feinberg, is currently applicable only to those who have previously filed abuse claims with the archdiocese. With the goal of quietly settling this claims, those who agree to compensation from the fund will be required to sign a release forgoing the right to sue the archdiocese over sexual abuse allegations.
“I recommend that before you do anything – before you give any information to the Archdiocese of New York – contact a lawyer and find out your legal rights,” said Jeff Herman, prominent sexual abuse attorney of Herman Law.
The New York bill, known as the Child Victims Act, would lift the strict statute of limitations which states that victims of sexual abuse must bring criminal or civil charges by the time they turn 23. This means that hundreds of abuse victims from over the last four or five decades would be entitled to bring their case in front of a court of law.
While Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, has said in a previous interview that he wished he “would have done this a while ago,” he hoped that this program would become a model for other dioceses to help their victims through the healing process.
However victims advocates, like Herman, have their concerns regarding the program that the Archdiocese of New York has created.
“I think the reason Cardinal Dolan is engaging in this program is to avoid paying victims fair compensation before the New York Child Victims Act law passes, which we expect to pass very soon,” said Herman. “ If that law passes, you’ll have the right to go to court and have a jury decide your case. Under Cardinal Dolan’s program, I believe you’ll be giving up substantial rights and not receive fair compensation.”
If you suffered at the hands of a member of the clergy, have been contacted by the Archdiocese of New York and have questions regarding your legal rights, contact Herman Law’s New York office at 212-390-0100.