So Far, Diocese of Scranton Has Paid $7 Million to 44 Sex Abuse Survivors

By Jeff Horvath
Citizens Voice
July 30, 2019

Victims of child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Scranton have until midnight Wednesday to register for a program compensating survivors of such abuse.

Through the Independent Survivors Compensation Program, the diocese already paid approximately $7 million to 44 survivors of clergy sex abuse, all of whom submitted claims for compensation under a special fund created last year.

The program officially launched in January, about five months after the release of a statewide grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Scranton.

The Scranton diocese has publicly identified 81 individuals, mostly former diocesan priests but also members of religious communities and lay people, who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The compensation program is open to any victim, including those who never previously reported the abuse, regardless of when it occurred or whether it was committed by clergy or a lay person in the diocese or a religious order.

To be eligible for the program, survivors who have not previously reported abuse to the diocese must register before midnight at

They also must report the allegation in writing to the district attorney’s office.

The program’s registration process will identify new potential claimants, who will be sent forms to fill out and submit. All claim forms must be submitted on or before Sept. 30.

The diocese hired the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Kenneth R. Feinberg to evaluate all claims and determine the amount of compensation victims should receive. All claims decisions are final and cannot be appealed by the diocese or the victim.

Fund administrator Camille Biros, the firm’s business manager, said 118 people submitted claims involving the Scranton diocese as of Tuesday morning. The roughly $7 million paid out thus far accounts for 44 of those claims, she said.

A determination has been made on nine other claims, but Biros said claimants in those cases have yet to accept their respective compensation offers. If all nine accept, the total compensation paid by the diocese will climb from about $7 million to about $8 million.

When the program launched, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop for the Diocese of Scranton, said the diocese’s first priority is to provide support for survivors or child sexual abuse. He acknowledged money can’t change the past, but said he hoped the program will help survivors heal and recover.

The bishop also stressed that the program is completely independent of the diocese, and that no money paid to victims will come from parishes, contributions or bequests from parishioners or donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal.

Instead, the diocese plans to primarily fund victims’ compensation through the sale of its three Wilkes-Barre health care facilities: Little Flower Manor, St. Therese Residence and St. Luke’s Villa, according to diocese spokesman Eric Deabill.

Officials in March announced the facilities would be sold to Allied Services, a Scranton-based nonprofit health system. Deabill said the diocese hopes to close on the sale sometime this fall. He did not disclose a sale price, noting negotiations are ongoing.

While the total amount the Scranton diocese ultimately will pay survivors is unclear, similar compensation programs put a financial strain on dioceses elsewhere in the state.

The Allentown diocese, for example, will cut its office staff by nearly a quarter and enact a pay freeze to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse there, The Morning Call of Allentown reported earlier this month.

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