What Is the Independent Compensation Program?

Six Catholic Dioceses Create Compensation Program for Victims of Clergy Abuse

Clergy sexual abuse is a rampant problem many dioceses have concealed for decades. Now, the California attorney general’s investigation and pressure from lawsuits are finally forcing dioceses to make information about clergy abuse public. As part of the effort to compensate survivors for the abuse they suffered, six dioceses in California have worked together to create the Independent Compensation Program

Registering for the program, however, may not be the right avenue for compensation for you. If you accept a settlement through the program, it will strip you of your rights to bring a lawsuit against the Diocese or hold it accountable for the full extent of your losses. Speak to an attorney at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for a free and confidential evaluation of your options before registering.

What Is it For?

The Independent Compensation Program is something six Catholic dioceses in California created to reimburse survivors for the immense emotional trauma and pain they suffered. Diocese leaders have said that while they know no amount of money will make up for the terrible crimes committed against survivors, they hope the program can help survivors seek redress and healing. 

The Independent Compensation Program allows certain survivors to file claims, with no statute of limitations on how long ago the abuse occurred. Third-party administrators will review each claim for credibility and award appropriate amounts to eligible survivors. It is what church officials are calling a nonadversarial process, meaning it does not require a lawsuit. Claimants can remain private and anonymous during the claim process. Fully completed claims can receive settlement checks within 90 days.

Who May File a Claim?

The Independent Compensation Program is voluntary. Any individual with a complaint regarding sexual abuse of a minor against a priest within one of the six dioceses involved in the program may file a claim for financial compensation. Even those who have missed the statute of limitations on California sexual abuse cases may be eligible for the independent program.

  • Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • Diocese of San Diego
  • Diocese of San Bernardino
  • Diocese of Orange
  • Diocese of Sacramento
  • Diocese of Fresno

Individuals who have already settled sexual abuse claims with one of the six dioceses in the program may not participate in the Independent Compensation Program. An applicant does not have to accept a settlement offered by the program’s administrators unless he or she is satisfied with the offer and agrees to waive any rights to litigation.

When Will the Program Begin?

The Independent Compensation Program began taking claims on September 16th, 2019. The administrators reviewing claims are Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille Biros. The program will continue to accept claims from individuals until March 31st, 2020. Claims must be postmarked no later than this date for administrators to hear them.

What About New Claims Not Previously Submitted to the Dioceses?

Individuals do not have to have filed previous claims against dioceses to be eligible for the Independent Compensation Program. Those who have not already filed complaints may participate in the program by registering on the website. Those who have submitted complaints in the past may also have the opportunity to apply for the program.

How Manly, Stewart & Finaldi Can Help Survivors 

In 15 years, 19 Catholic dioceses in the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy because of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. In California, the Dioceses of San Diego and Stockton have filed for bankruptcy in the past. More may file for bankruptcy due to recent lawsuits. This could make it more difficult for survivors to obtain fair compensation.

It may not be in your best interest to file for a settlement through the Independent Compensation Program. The program may provide much less compensation than a civil lawsuit could. Hiring an attorney is the only way to hold a diocese accountable for abuse. The lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can properly evaluate the value of your claim during a free consultation and let you know which outlet for recovery is best for your needs. Contact us today.