What is a Sexual Abuse Independent Victim Compensation Program and is it Right for Me?
Many Catholic Dioceses across the country have implemented “Victim Compensation Plans” for survivors of abuse. What are they? What do they do? These plans protect predators and the guilty institutions who have covered-up abuse, but they may be the best — or only — option for many survivors. We recommend connecting with a law firm to learn about all your legal options before making a decision about a victim compensation plan.
Who are the People Who Manage and Administer the Compensation Plans/Programs?
Since 2017, numerous Catholic dioceses across the country have implemented compensation programs for sexual abuse survivors. The vast majority of these programs were administered by the same group of attorneys. However, some dioceses chose different program administrators. For specific information on these programs, you can visit the particular diocese’s website of which you are interested in for more information.
Will Any of the Information I Give the Diocese/Archdiocese be Used Against Me?
The information you provided to the Diocese/Archdiocese as part of a compensation program is confidential. You can discuss your concerns in further detail with the attorney working on your case, should we undertake representation of you for the abuse you suffered as a child.
The Perpetrator That I Filed a Claim Against in the Compensation Plan is Still in Ministry. What Should I Do?
If you hired an attorney to help you in the process, contact that attorney and ask for their guidance in potentially publicizing the name of the perpetrator.
If you did not hire an attorney, you may have other options. You can contact the local media where the perpetrator is still in ministry and show them your documentation. Because you are a survivor of abuse, they do not have to use your name in any stories generated.
You can also reach out to advocacy organizations such as SNAP, who specialize in publicizing the names of hidden predator priests.
You can also contact law enforcement in the jurisdiction in which the abuse occurred or where the perpetrator is currently in ministry and report your abuse. There is no guarantee that law enforcement will take action, but there will be documentation and a record of your report for the future.
Should I Use a Lawyer if I Go Through the Compensation Program?
Yes. In representing hundreds of survivors through these programs, our firm has concluded that hiring an experienced sexual abuse attorney who has navigated these programs in the past, is the best option for survivors.
The best thing you can do to protect your interests is to face them with your own, dedicated and experienced legal team.
I Accepted a Compensation Offer. Can I Still File a Civil Lawsuit?
When you accepted the offer, you most likely signed a legal release, which often lays out legal stipulations that go along with accepting the offer. In order to know what your options are, you need to speak with an attorney and provide them with some information about your offer.
It is always a good idea to talk to a qualified attorney to see if you have other options.
I Was Turned Down by the Compensation Plan. Do I Still Have Other Legal Rights?
To learn what your options are regarding compensation and potentially taking legal action, contact us. Every case is different, and we need to gather some information in order to provide proper insight into what your legal options are.
If I Turn Down a Compensation Offer, Can I Still File a Civil Lawsuit?
In many cases, you can still file a civil lawsuit if you turned down a compensation offer. However, it’s important to speak with an attorney to know what your legal options are, as options vary depending on many factors.