By Stephen Rex Brown (NY Daily News)
February 3, 2017
A program set up by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to compensate people who were abused by clergy when they were kids has given money to more than 30 people, officials said.
Camille Biros, who is administering the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Fund along with attorney Kenneth Feinberg, said 142 people have submitted claims through the program.
The deadline for the first phase of the fund passed on Jan. 31. Biros said 175 people were eligible for compensation in the first phase, which is open only to people who had previously documented cases of clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of New York. Those include cases reported to law enforcement or the diocese.
“We’re extremely pleased with the success of the program,” said Biros, who encouraged people, despite the expired deadline, to still contact the fund if they think they’re eligible.
So far, 31 people have accepted settlement offers. Officials would not discuss how much money they got, citing ongoing negotiations with other victims. Nine people have yet to decide whether to accept the money, which requires the victims to waive the right to sue over the abuse.
Victims are barred from bringing lawsuits by New York’s statute of limitations on claims of child sex abuse. Victims must file civil lawsuits or criminal charges before they turn 23. Gov. Cuomo has vowed to get rid of the statute of limitations.
Biros said only one accuser has been denied a settlement. Kevin Stanton, 37, contacted the Daily News, saying he was the one denied. Still, Stanton said he was satisfied with the program.
“Mr. Feinberg helped bring greater peace to my abuse with nothing more than an honest and thorough review of my claim,” Stanton said.
He charged that a priest at St. Joseph’s Parish in the tiny town of Millbrook in Dutchess County abused him when he was 6 years old. Parts of the parish have since closed.
Stanton said the priest — who often delivered Sunday sermons holding a Snoopy doll — came over to his parents’ home in 1986. Following a boozy dinner, the priest entered Stanton’s room and molested him, he said. The priest, who has retired from the priesthood, could not be reached. He would now be 83, according to records.
Feinberg declined to offer Stanton a settlement because he was the priest’s only accuser, Stanton said. The archdiocese also considered the priest of “good record,” Stanton said.
Stanton submitted a psychiatric report backing up his claims, as well as a 2010 criminal complaint he filed in Dutchess County — though charges were barred by the statute of limitations.
“We made it clear from the beginning that Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros would be the administrators of the program,” said Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling. “We would respect their judgement. They have autonomy.”
The second phase of the program, open to anyone making a new complaint against the archdiocese, is underway. Dolan announced the creation of the program in October, calling abuse by priests “nauseating.”
Feinberg was a mediator of the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund.