Some clergy sex abuse survivors choosing to decline compensation from Diocese of Harrisburg

By Jossie Carbonare
Fox 43 News
July 26, 2019

[with video]

The deadline to accept or decline offers from the Diocese of Harrisburg's Survivor Compensation Program has arrived.

The program was set up in February as an attempt to make financial amends to victims after a Grand Jury report on child sex abuse within six Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania.

However, for one of those survivors, who anonymously told FOX43 his story of abuse by a former Diocese of Harrisburg priest, the settlement money simply isn't enough.

He says "The payoff amount might be enough for some who were victims of the systematic abuse and cover-up by the church leaders and their subordinates, but for me it was a veiled attempt to rid themselves of any future liability or accountability."

"They have the right to deny it and there is no one forcing them to participate in the program," said Mike Barley, spokesperson for Diocese of Harrisburg.

Barley says while he believes the program is successful, he understands it's not going to solve everything.

"Money is not going to erase what was done to them or the issues that have been created and quite frankly their lack of trust with the church but its a step, it’s trying to help them with their lives moving forward." he added.

Some survivors refused the offer, while others say they feel they need to accept it to feel some sense of closure.

However, for those accepting the offer they are giving up the right to sue the diocese in the future.

"One of the reasons we wanted to get this deadline in place is so that Bishop Gainer could have the opportunity to make some of the decisions he needs to make moving forward," said Barley.

Barley says some of the things that need to be discussed is the final amount of money the diocese will be expending on the survivors compensation fund, if they will have enough money to do another round and what that may look like.

"Those types of decisions are pending based on how many folks we are able to help and how much money it will cost the diocese," said Barley.

The anonymous survivor tells FOX43  the way the survivor compensation program is set up did not feel right to him.

"I felt like i was at a college admissions interview and not a meeting to discuss the physical and mental abuse of a child by a catholic priest and the subsequent cover-up," he said.

He also said: "I hope all of the faithful understand where their money is really going this Sunday when they attend services in the diocese of Harrisburg. as long as the coffers continue to be filled on Sundays, the church will be able to afford defense attorneys and compensation funds to shield themselves from truth and justice."

Compensation offers are being handled by an independent mediation firm.

A full report on the fund, including the number of survivors the Diocese of Harrisburg is making offers to,  is expected to be released in the coming weeks.


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