The Archdiocese of New York has announced a program to allow victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy to apply for compensation from the church — even for abuse claims that are decades old.
The Archdiocese of New York is the second-largest diocese in the United States, encompassing 296 parishes and 2.8 million Catholics in New York state. Its geographical area spans the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as the counties of Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Ulster counties.
The program will be headed by Kenneth Feinberg, who ran the federal Sept. 11 victims fund. It will have the authority to determine who is eligible for compensation and how much is awarded, church officials said. For years, victims’ groups and some state lawmakers have pressed for legislation in New York that would lift the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases to permit lawsuits by more victims. New York currently has among the most restrictive laws for victims in the nation, requiring that they bring criminal or civil charges by the time they turn 23. The church has actively lobbied against the bill, known as the Child Victims Act, which applies not just to priests, but to anyone who sexually abuses a child. The compensation program, in some ways, is the church’s response, which it hopes gives victims a measure of justice and closure. It also limits the potential for future litigation, critics say.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, an organization critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases, argued that the timing of the program was hardly coincidental. “We’ve seen the pattern time and time again across the country,” he said. “Whenever statute of limitations reform is making real progress, bishops take these steps, in essence, to say to lawmakers, ‘Hey, back off, we’re handling this ourselves.’”
Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing claims on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse by someone affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York, please e-mail attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100 to learn if you are eligible for compensation.