Colorado’s Catholic dioceses pay $6.6 million in abuse settlements

Denver, Colo., Oct 19, 2020 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- An independent reparation and reconciliation program for the three dioceses in Colorado announced Friday that $6.68 million had been paid to 73 victims of clerical abuse who were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

The program is administered by Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, independent from control by the Church, and is monitored by an independent board, the Independent Oversight Committee.

The IOC said Oct. 16 that “The administrators and the IOC have received positive feedback from program participants. Many survivors (and their attorneys) have commended the option to seek compensation in a non-adversarial forum independent from the Dioceses and without regard for the statute of limitations.”

The program was accounced in October 2019, and the claims process has now closed.

During the process, 98 claims were made, of which 81 were determined to be eligible for compensation.

The $6.68 million has been paid to 73 victims. Of the remaining eight, one is being paid; four have not yet responded to the compensation offer, and three are awaiting law enforcement notification by the claimants.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said Oct. 16 told the victims who participated in the program, “I have met with all of you who requested a meeting in which I could offer an apology to you in person, and will meet with anyone else should you desire to do so. I know others have chosen a different path for healing and I, of course, respect your wishes. Please know, on behalf of myself and the Church, I am deeply sorry for the pain and hurt that was caused by the abuse you suffered.”

“I remain steadfastly committed to meeting with any survivor who desires to meet with me and doing everything I can so that the problems of the past never repeat themselves. I know that money cannot fully heal the wounds you suffered, but hope that those of you who came forward felt heard, acknowledged, and that the reparations offer a measure of justice and access to resources,” he added.

The archbishop told any victims who have not come forward that the archdiocese “can help you find other resources that will provide the assistance you need.”

The program followed the release of a report issued after a seven-month investigation conducted by a former U.S. Attorney, Bob Troyer. Colorado’s bishops and the state’s attorney general decided mutually to support the investigation, which was funded by an anonymous donor.

That October 2019 report found that 43 diocesan priests since 1950 had been credibly accused of sexually abusing at least 166 children in the state.

Archbishop Aquila noted that “some substantiated allegations in the Program were made against priests not previously identified” in the October 2019 report, and said that “the identity of priests who were accused of wrongdoing in the Program process where those allegations were deemed substantiated … will be included in an addendum.”

Troyer will prepare that report as well, which is expected to be released nexth month.

“None of the survivors who participated in the Program reported abuse in the last 20 years – meaning
that the abuse alleged in the Program, like that set out in the Special Master’s original report, involves
incidents that occurred decades ago,” the archbishop added.

Nearly 70% of victims identified in the October 2019 were abused in the 1960s and 1970s, and the most recent acts of clerical sexual abuse documented in the report took place in 1998, when a now incarcerated and laicized Denver priest sexually abused a teenage boy.

The IOC said the most recent time frame of abuse in the report or the IRRP process is 1999.

Archbishop Aquila stated that “this independent program and the independent review conducted by the dioceses in Colorado in cooperation with the Attorney General have put a spotlight on a horrifying chapter in our history, but it has also shown that the steps we have taken over the past 30 years – including our training and empowerment of thousands of faithful parishioners and volunteers across the Archdiocese – have been effective. Most of all, it has taught us to be open and care for victims of abuse as they deem best, and to always be vigilant to make sure the Church is a safe place.”

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