A private independent program set up in six California dioceses to compensate victim-survivors of child sexual abuse by priests has concluded after two years of work.
In a two-page report issued September 2, the program said the dioceses paid out $23.97 million to 197 individuals.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid settlements totaling nearly $9.7 million to 89 victim-survivors. In two additional cases, the victims in Los Angeles were also victims of abuse in the Diocese of Orange. The total Archdiocesan payments included contributions to those two settlements, as well.
“No settlement alone will ever correct the pain or injustice of childhood sexual abuse,” said former California Governor Gray Davis, who headed the three-person review board overseeing the program’s work, along with former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet.
In a statement, Davis said the program “functioned precisely as it was envisioned, and proved to be a valuable alternative” for abuse survivors who did not want to pursue their claims in court.
The independent program was launched in September 2019, with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Dioceses of Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and San Diego agreeing to take part. Together, the six dioceses represent more than 10 million Catholics — more than 80 percent of the state’s Catholic population.
Under the program, victim-survivors submitted their abuse claims to independent administrators who determined their credibility and the appropriate compensation.
In a status report issued in early 2020, the administrators, nationally known mediators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, expressed satisfaction with the dioceses’ cooperation and the program’s effectiveness in providing just compensation to victims. The pair have also run similar programs in New York, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
In issuing the final report, review board member Contreras-Sweet said she was pleased that the process “treated all victim-survivors, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, with dignity and compassion.” The process, she added, “offered victim-survivors some sense of justice and validation for the inexcusable trauma they endured.”
A full copy of the program’s final report is available here.