A former priest who now leads an agency advocating for victims of sexual abuse is criticizing the system by which the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo processed and compensated abuse cases.
The Diocese of Buffalo, on Tuesday, released the final results of its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was introduced in March 2018 to address claims of childhood sexual abuse carried out by clergy. The diocese reports paying out an esatimated $17.6 million to date, awarding 127 people an average of $160,000. The compensation per person ranged from $2,000 to $650,000.
In all, 262 claims were filed.
"No one who reported their abuse after March 1, 2018 has been allowed to be part of this program," said Robert Hoatson, founder and leader of the group Road to Recovery. "And according to reports, 135 cases, claims, have been rejected by the two judges who are running this program."
Those judges are retired State Supreme Court Justices Jerome Gorski and Barbara Howe.
WBFO forwarded a message to the Diocese of Buffalo, asking for an official statement on its own behalf but as of Wednesday afternoon no reply was received.
James Faluszczak, also a former priest-turned-advocate, often joins Hoatson at Buffalo-area appearances but was not present Wednesday. He issued a news release which, in part, questioned the objectivity of the IRCP.
"The fund was administered under the shadow of a federal subpoena. A federal grand jury is conducting an investigation of the administration of the program by two retired judges appointed by the Diocese of Buffalo," said Faluszczak in a prepared statement. "Self-selected administrators and the involvement of diocesan employees in the IRCP process underline the fact that this program was anything but independent."
Hoatson, when asked what the diocese must do to satisfy him, stated the compensation program must be opened to include all victims, especially more recent cases in which the abused may not be psychologically ready to come forward. He was asked about the possibility of some claims being false. He acknowledged that some accusations may lack merit but suggests those examples are very few.
"In my experience, and I've been doing this for a long, long time, I've never come across anybody who has been bogusly trying to grasp for money," he replied. "Have there been cases? I'm sure. Occasionally there are. But the ratio is so tiny, that it really is negligible."