KCRA Outside of local church

Six Catholic dioceses in California, including Sacramento, announced Tuesday the creation of a victims compensation program in the wake of more than 40 area clergy being credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Sacramento, CA (KCRA) -- Six Catholic dioceses in California, including Sacramento, announced Tuesday the creation of a victims compensation program in the wake of more than 40 area clergy being credibly accused of sexual abuse.

“This morning, 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 5 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," said Bishop Jaime Soto in a prepared statement.

Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros of the Washington, D.C.-based Feinberg Law Firm will head the program, which is expected to begin before the end of the summer, Soto said.

Most claims should be paid in 90 days or less, according to Soto. The D.C. team will determine how much victims are paid, said diocese spokesperson Kevin Eckery, who added that there's no appeals process for the diocese or statute of limitations for victims.

"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 victim/survivors heal from that abuse."

He noted that settlements paid via the program will come from insurance or diocesan funds and not parish resources.

SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that while "we appreciate the gesture, we hope that survivors in California will carefully consider their options before signing on."

"Removing a survivor’s right to sue – as is common in compensation programs – can prevent them from forcing using legal tools in the future that can compel dioceses to release information or correct misinformation," the statement goes on to say. "This is especially important as right now there is a bill right now in the California Assembly that will open up a new 'window to justice.'"

The program comes after the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento last month released the names of 44 priests and two permanent deacons who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the past seven decades.

The Diocese of Sacramento serves 1.3 million Catholics across 20 counties and is one of 12 dioceses in California.

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