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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese program to help sexual abuse victims went live on Tuesday.
There is no limit on how big cash settlements can be but there are some guidelines. Any victims who accept money will give up the right to take the church to court later on.
The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program, for people who were victims of child sex abuse by clergy is the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, is now live.
It’s the latest in the diocese response to a scathing grand jury report, which showed sexual abuse by priests. They’ve also held listening sessions, including one last month in Jefferson Hills.
“I do think the Holy Spirit needs to come and clean up this church,” one parishioner said.
Under the compensation program, claims must be submitted by the end of September. New allegations must be registered by the end of July. People who have already settled cannot participate.
Two members of a Washington D.C. law firm will determine eligibility and compensation offers. One of them spoke at a press conference last month.
“There’s no protracted litigation, no roll of the dice in the courtroom, no uncertainty as to whether the claim will be upheld on appeal or anything like that,” settlement attorney Kenneth Feinberg said.
“Any person who has been harmed in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, help them, heal them, give them the continued strength to recover,” Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik said.
Attorney Alan Perer represents 25 abuse victims and believes the process will spare victims from going to court.
“A number of those people would welcome not having to go to court and tell the horrible abuse that occurred to them,” Perer said.
The bishop has said the money that is paid out will not come from parishioner donations. Instead, it will primarily come from insurance and sale of diocese properties.