The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says its clergy abuse compensation program rejected more than half the claims filed by alleged victims while awarding 127 people an average of $160,000.
The diocese Tuesday released final results of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program established last year amid scrutiny of the diocese's handling of claims of sex abuse against priests. To date, it has paid out $17.6 million.
The program was administered by two retired judges tasked with considering only previously reported claims and setting award amounts.
The diocese says it filed numerous objections to claims that hadn't been reported prior to the program's March 2018 start.
In all, 262 claims were filed before the June 1, 2018, deadline and 135 were rejected as ineligible. Award amounts ranged from $2,000 to $650,000.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing hundreds of clergy abuse victims, including some in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, was critical of the report results.
"The report of the Diocese of Buffalo fails to take into account the hundreds of clergy sexual victims who were not eligible for the program because of the early reporting deadline of before March 1, 2018, the realization that clergy sexual abuse victims who were sexually abused in the 2000s will not come forward for years to come, and that history has taught us that the Diocese of Buffalo cannot successfully self-police," Garabedian said in a statement. "The Diocese of Buffalo has issued a report that tries to give the impression clergy sexual abuse crisis has been taken care of to a great extent when nothing can be further from the truth. Instead of promoting healing the report, through deception, adds salt to the wounds of many clergy sexual abuse victims."
Attorney Kevin Stocker is representing two "whistleblowers," who he said were punished by the diocese for bringing a complaint, plus nearly 20 local survivors. He told WBFO only three of his clients have settled.
Stocker was critical of the process.
"I think there's been small token given. They wouldn't turn over their own records," Stocker said. "So I think they're being transparent? Do I think they've turned the corner? No I don't. I think you're going to see in the subsequent litigation that the problem is a lot worse than earlier reported."
Stocker said he is looking to collaborate with other attorneys representing survivors to pursue further action.
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