Archdiocese moves to mortgage land behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral for $100M loan to pay sex abuse victims

By Stephen Rex Brown
New York Daily News
February 28, 2017

The Archdiocese of New York wants to mortgage the land behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral and use the money to pay victims who were sexually abused by clergy.
Photo by Howard Simmons

Timothy Cardinal Dolan announced the program last year meant to compensate victims of abuse of Archdiocese of New York clergy.
Photo by Morry Gash

The Archdiocese of New York is seeking approval for a $100 million loan — using valuable land behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral as collateral — to pay victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

The church says in paperwork filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that it will mortgage the land occupied by the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on Madison Ave. between 50th and 51st Sts., across the street from the church.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, confirmed Tuesday that “the loan would be used to cover the settlement costs” of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program with victims of abuse who agree to never take their cases to court.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan announced the program last year to compensate victims of child sex abuse of clergy in the Archdiocese of New York.

The victims’ claims are barred from bringing claims in court due to the state’s statute of limitations. Currently, victims must come forward by the age of 23 — or else their attackers can dodge prosecution.

Attorney Jordan Merson, who is representing a client pursuing a claim through the program, estimated that $100 million would not cover the full cost of all the settlements.

He compared it with the cost of Penn State University’s settlements with victims of Jerry Sandusky. The school has reportedly paid victims $92 million.

“It is very doubtful that it will (cover the cost),” Merson said. “Penn State University paid almost that amount for the much, much smaller class of Sandusky victims, although here, it is largely unknown what is being awarded to survivors.”

Camille Biros, one of the lawyers overseeing the archdiocese program, declined to reveal any dollar figures associated with settlements.

“I really won’t comment on anything having to do with the money,” she said.

The deadline passed this month for applicants in phase I of the settlement program, which was open to people who had made previously documented allegations of abuse against clergy in the archdiocese. Those include cases reported to law enforcement or the diocese.

Biros said 144 people had submitted claims in the first phase. Of those, 44 had accepted settlement offers. Twenty others were still being considered.

No one has yet rejected an offer, she said.

Biros is administering the fund along with lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who previously worked as a mediator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

She estimated all the claims will have been processed by the end of March.

Phase II of the program, which is open to people making new allegations of abuse, is underway.

So far, 100 have registered for that phase, though only 26 or 27 are eligible to pursue a claim regarding abuse within the archdiocese.

Biros said she and Feinberg — who determine settlement offers without the church’s input — had nothing to do with the loan.

As a nonprofit, the church must get court approval for the loan from JP Morgan Chase.

Dolan announced the creation of the program last October, calling abuse by priests “nauseating.”


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