What if My Claim Is Against Clergy of Another Diocese or Religious Order? May I Still Register for the Program?

As a survivor of clergy abuse in California, a new program may entitle you to compensation. The Independent Compensation Program is a new way for certain dioceses in California to reimburse eligible claimants for their losses, including mental anguish, emotional distress and related medical costs, including therapies and medications. Only survivors that experienced abuse within the six dioceses involved in the program, however, may file claims.

About the Independent Compensation Program

The Independent Compensation Program began accepting claims for financial relief from survivors of sexual abuse by priests on September 16th, 2019. Claimants will have until March 31st, 2020 to register with the program for administrators to review their claims. If the third-party administrators accept the validity of the claim and offer a settlement, the claimant will have 60 days to accept before the offer expires. 

The two people the state chose to act as administrators for the Independent Compensation Program are nationally recognized claims experts Kenneth R. Feinberg and his associate, Camille Biros. They are attorneys who specialize in alternative dispute resolution. They will make the ultimate decision as to whether a claimant should receive compensation, and if so what amount is fair and reasonable. They will determine an amount based on factors such as how severely the sexual abuse impacted the survivor.

What Are the Participating Dioceses?

The California Independent Compensation Program will only distribute awards to individuals who can prove priests in the participating dioceses sexually abused them as minors. The individual’s perpetrator must have worked for one of the six dioceses that created the program for the person to file a claim.

If the priest or clergy member that abused or assaulted you as a child was not within one of these six dioceses, you will not be able to file a claim for damages with the Independent Compensation Program. That does not, however, mean you are ineligible for compensation altogether. You may be able to recover through other outlets. A civil lawsuit could result in greater compensation than a claim through the dioceses’ program.

Other Outlets for Recovery

Although the Independent Compensation Program could result in a fast payout for abuse survivors, it comes at a price. The claimant must sign a release form forfeiting all rights to file a lawsuit against the diocese in the future for the abuse. A lawsuit will generally result in higher compensation than a settlement from the Independent Compensation Program. For this reason, all claimants considering registering with the program must talk to attorneys before signing the release form.

If a clergy member of another diocese or religious order committed sexual abuse against you as a minor, you may need a civil lawsuit to achieve closure and compensation for your damages. A lawsuit can hold the perpetrator, the diocese and/or other parties responsible for facilitating sexual abuse at a parish. It does not matter which diocese the clergy member that assaulted you belongs to; you have the right to file a claim for damages against any diocese in California through the civil justice system.

Speak to an Attorney Today

A sexual abuse lawyer from Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can guide you through the process of gathering evidence, building a case, identifying the defendant(s) and filing your claim before California’s deadline. The passing of Assembly Bill No. 218 made it easier for sexual abuse survivors to obtain compensation in California. It extended the deadline and expanded the definition of childhood sexual abuse. A judge may even rule to revive your case if you have previously missed the statute of limitations. Speak to our attorneys today at (855) 944-0710 to learn more about your potential options for financial recovery as a survivor of clergy abuse in California.