By Stefan Farrar
Church Militant
December 09, 2016

[with video]

NEW YORK ( - Forty-six people have registered claims of sex abuse in the archdiocese of New York through a newly developed victims' compensation program.

The compensation program was established by Cdl. Timothy Dolan in early October, who said, "I wish I would have done this quite a while ago. I just finally thought: Darn it, let's do it. I'm tired of putting it off."

According to the official protocol, "This Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (the 'IRCP') follows in the wake of initiatives already implemented by the Archdiocese of New York ... to address the problem of sexual abuse of minors alleged against clergy of the Archdiocese."

The program has come under fire from advocates for sex abuse victims. Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, wrote, "While the fund certainly will help some victims, its biggest beneficiary will be Dolan and his management team. This is a legal strategy in pastoral garb, a tactic by the powerful archbishop to control victims and protect the church's assets and its secrets."

Barrett Doyle's criticisms are based on two elements of the program: (1) claimants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and (2) victims aren't given information on what happened to their abuser.

"Victims must sign a legal agreement to abide by all requirements pertaining to privacy and confidentiality," she says, "and they must release the archdiocese from future liability — i.e., never sue it."

"And unlike the Penn State claimants, the victims in Dolan's program will be signing releases without the benefit of any information about how their perpetrators were managed," she continues.

In the case of John J. Geoghan, a notorious abuser of hundreds of children, as many as 30 abuse cases were settled in private that required confidentiality agreements. Mitchell Garabedian, who filed numerous lawsuits against Geoghan, commented that settling cases in secrecy leads to victims feeling "more unnecessary guilt about the sexual molestation, even if it's years later."

Jeffrey R. Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who has represented more than 1,000 sex abuse victims, has also criticized confidentiality agreements. "I am greatly offended by the frequency and number of confidentially settled agreements. The Church overwhelms lawyers and survivors into silence and secrecy and I don't like it."

Mary Caplan, former director of the New York chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a group that lobbies on behalf of victims, remarked that she would "encourage victims to think long and hard before approaching Church officials or their representatives."

The potential passage of the Child Victims Act could spell disaster for the archdiocese's program. Although the bill was defeated last year, it has generated widespread support, and its sponsor is planning on bringing it up in the 2017 legislative session. 

Barrett Doyle commented,

When it passes, the Act will give future victims more time to take action, and it will include a "look-back" clause: for a limited period, it will revive the currently expired civil claims of all abuse victims in New York. This retroactivity is what worries Dolan. Lawsuits by victims will result not only in payouts by the Church, but the disclosure of its secret abuse files, revealing what archdiocesan managers knew and when.

She argues, "In this year of grace and challenge, the cardinal should do things differently. Mercy cannot come with chains. Dolan should eliminate requirements for the victim to stay silent about any aspect of the mediation. And he should accompany the fund with radical transparency."


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