The Catholic Diocese Of Pittsburgh Expects It Will Pay Tens Of Millions To Sexual Abuse Victims, Hopes To Avoid Bankruptcy

By Andy Sheehan
August 14, 2020

[with video]

Today marks two years since the release of the grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse.

Out of shock and shame that was the grand jury report, Bishop Zubik says the diocese emerged with one clear obligation — to compensate and care for victims of clergy sexual abuse — no matter the cost.

“First and foremost to people who are the victim/survivors to help them in every way we can possibly help them,” he said

To that end, the diocese established the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program — a fund to compensate all victims of clergy sexual abuse. Some 369 people have made claims and to date, most have received compensation including Paul Dorsch.

“How do you put a dollar value on that?” He said.

For Dorsch, it’s been a long road. He and others told me two decades ago about the sexual abuse they suffered as teenagers at the hands of Father Jack Hoehl, the former headmaster of Quigley High School, who as named in the report.

“It’s a devastating situation to go through because you’re not only going through sexual abuse, your self-esteem is destroyed but your spiritual development as well is so messed up,” he said.

The diocese won’t release a figure until the payouts are completed in October, but it will be in the tens of millions of dollars. And while Dorsch says the money cannot fully compensate, it has helped him take care of his wife, family and others.

“That’s been helpful at this point because there were times I didn’t think I would make it through the night. There were times I didn’t want to,” he said.

To fully compensate the victims, the diocese acknowledges it has come perilously close to bankruptcy and now faces dozens of additional suits in courts from people who did not participate in the fund or were denied claims. But regardless of the cost, the bishop says he’s committed to making all victims whole. Today he appointed a victim’s assistance coordinator to offer support and guide them to counseling and recovery.

“To give some tangible sign that the church is serious about walking with victim-survivors,” he said.

Now, the bishop says the diocese is surviving. It had expected that during COVID that donations would fall by 50 percent but have fallen less than 20. Its hope is to compensate everyone and avoid bankruptcy.


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