SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento survivors of sex abuse by Catholic priests may receive compensation for their pain and suffering, according to an announcement by Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto Tuesday.
“As part of our effort to own and atone for the Church’s failure to protect children and young people abused by Catholic priests, the diocese of Sacramento joined five other Catholic dioceses in California to announce the creation of an Independent Victims Compensation Program designed to provide material compensation for pain and suffering they have experienced because of their abuse," Soto said in a statement posted on the diocese's website.
The Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego dioceses are also included in the compensation program.
Survivors will be invited to apply for compensation regardless of when the abuse occurred.
The Feinberg Law Firm, based in Washington, D.C., will create and administer the program. The firm is lead by Kenneth Feinberg, who led compensation efforts after the September 11 terror attacks, BP oil spill, and the Penn State sexual abuse case.
“We anticipate the program will begin before the end of summer, operating on a timetable established by Administrator Feinberg," Soto said. "Administer Feinberg has said most claims will be reviewed in 90 days or less."
Settlements paid for through the compensation program will come from diocesan funds or insurance, according to Soto's statement.
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"No amount of money can make up for the evil done to victims of priestly sex abuse," Soto said. "I acknowledge the pain that was caused, my shame and sorrow that it happened in the name of the Church, and my intention to help victims/survivors heal from that abuse."
The program will be overseen by a lay oversight panel. Former Gov. Gray Davis and Maria Contreras Sweet, a former U.S. Small Business Administration director, have agreed to serve on the panel. Additional members will be announced at a later date.
On April 30, the Sacramento Roman Catholic Diocese released a list of priests and religious leaders that were accused of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct while serving in the diocese.
The types of abuse ranged from inappropriate kissing to rape and affected people who were 25 and younger during the time of the abuse, according to the diocese. Some of 46 religious leaders were assigned to serve in schools.