Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese Pays Out $11 Million In Victims Compensation Program

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse paid out nearly $11 million on 79 claims of child sexual abuse during its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

Camille Biros (left), Ken Feinberg (center) and Bishop Robert Cunningham (right) announcing the program in 2018. (Ellen Abbot/WRVO)

The diocese includes Broome, Cortland and Chenango counties.

The program began in early 2018. People with what the diocese deemed credible cases of child sexual abuse were invited to take part. It was run by independent mediators, Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros, they also ran programs for dioceses in Ogdensburg, Brooklyn and Rockville Centre.

There were 88 claims filed. Three were ruled ineligible, four didn’t respond and two declined the diocese’s offer. The diocese it paid for the program through its self-insurance general liability program, not donations from parishioners.

Once someone accepted they payout, they agreed not to sue the diocese. That wasn’t a problem for many, because New York’s statute of limitations had barred them from that.

That is until this year.

The Child Victims Act (CVA) passed in January after gaining support in statewide polls. It extends the statute of limitations for people who have been abused to sue and creates a one-year look back for people previously barred to bring their case to court.

The Syracuse Diocese has said conducting the program in the last year had nothing to do with growing support for the CVA. It ends the report by encouraging anyone with claims of abuse to come forward.

While the Syracuse Diocese moved forward with its program, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester ended its program in March. That covers the part of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier.

Rochester says it’s reevaluating its options because of an influx of expected litigation under the CVA.