RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced that their Independent Reconciliation Program resulted in 60 eligible claims of sexual abuse by clergy member and 51 offers of monetary payment being made and accepted. The total monetary payments made to the 51 victims was $6.3 million.
The Catholic Diocese established the program in February as a way to “offer assistance to and facilitate healing for individuals who, as minors, experienced sexual abuse by its clergy.” This program was designed to accompany other outreach offerings and specifically offer monetary payment to victims.
Bishop Barry C. Knestout led efforts to form the program. The release acknowledges that no monetary sum will be able to fully compensate for the damage done by abusive clergy.
The diocese hired BrownGreer, PLC, a Richmond-based law firm specializing in claims administration to handle the claims. The firm is well-known for their handling of other claims resolutions programs such as “the NFL Concussion Settlement Program; the BP Oil Spill Program; the One October Settlement Fund for victims of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting; and the Fire Victims Trust arising from the PG&E’s bankruptcy for those suffering personal or property damages from the California wildfires.”
Throughout the process, the firm worked to determine eligible claims and the amount of each offer. They also worked to keep the privacy of the sexual abuse survivors and keep information provided by them confidential.
“It was an honor to be entrusted with the personal and painful stories of victim-survivors who, as
minors, suffered sexual abuse by clergy in the Richmond Diocese. Although there is no amount of
money that can ever truly compensate them for what they endured, it is our hope that the Program
provided claimants with affirmation and a path to continue or begin healing,” explained Lynn Crowder Greer, Claims Administrator for the Independent Reconciliation Program.
Victims were not required to participate in the program. Anyone who did participate, including those who accepted monetary payment, was not asked to sign confidentiality agreements and will be able to freely discuss their claims and the abuse done by clergy members.
The release states, “By accepting a monetary payment as part of the Independent Reconciliation Program, individuals waived any future civil legal claim against the Richmond Diocese related to their sexual abuse claims.”
According to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the funding for the payments came from the diocese’s self-insurance program, a loan, and contributions from other religious orders.
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