Edison, NJ - The New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program (IVCP), a program established by the Church, will begin accepting claims related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests and deacons in the five Roman Catholic Arch/Dioceses of Metuchen, Camden, Newark, Paterson and Trenton starting on June 15, 2019, according to an announcement made by the Diocese of Metuchen.
The IVCP, a voluntary program, was established to compensate those who, as children or young adults, were sexually abused by a priest or deacon of the Diocese.
The program will be independently administered by victims’ compensation experts Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, who, according to the Diocese, have also administered compensation programs for victims of the Penn State sexual abuse claims, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the Boston Marathon bombing.
According to the Diocese, Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros will have complete autonomy to determine the eligibility of a claim and the amount of compensation. Church officials stated that they will have no authority to challenge the decisions or the amounts awarded as determined by the administrators.
Individual victims who accept the amount offered by the administrators will be required to sign a release, in which the victim agrees not to engage in any further litigation against the particular diocese.
All compensation paid pursuant to the IVCP will come from Church funds, according to Church leaders who stated that no public money will be used to pay eligible claims.
The Diocese of Metuchen funds for the IVCP are expected to be paid through self-funded insurance reserves and insurance policies where available. The Diocese of Metuchen stated that it will not use money donated to support the Bishop's Annual Appeal, nor money given by a donor for a specific ministry or apostolate.
According to the Diocese, since its founding in 1981, the Diocese of Metuchen has paid approximately $1.5 million dollars in settlements to 21 survivors.
“The allegations that have been received by our diocese as related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests in our parishes and schools are, in all cases, decades old,” said Bishop James F. Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen. “While our present Church has been entrusted with the responsibility of handling the misdeeds of the past, our diocese has taken significant steps to create safe environments in our parishes and our schools to ensure that these crimes and sins will not be repeated or tolerated, in any way, in our future.”
According to the Diocese, in 2002, it examined all clergy files, to review any reasonably available and relevant information pertaining to allegations of sexual abuse, in an audit conducted by an outside law firm and the diocesan chancellor. As a result of that audit, the Diocese stated that it turned over to law enforcement alleged cases of sexual abuse or misconduct, including cases that pre-dated the founding of the Diocese, many of which, according to the Diocese, were reported to have happened between the 1960’s and 1980’s.
The Diocese stated that it has its practice to turn over to the County Prosecutors’ Offices every single reported claim of sexual abuse of a minor.
The IVCP will be open to claims beginning June 15 and will close on December 31, 2019. According to the Diocese, all individuals who wish to submit claims through the program must do so during this period.