As window for claims closes, Archdiocese of Philadelphia to pay $32M to abuse victims

 The sun sets behind the cross atop the dome of the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The sun sets behind the cross atop the dome of the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

$32,090,000.

That’s how much money has been offered to victims of sexual abuse by Philadelphia Archdiocese clergy to date, according to Hon. Larry Stengel, chair of the oversight committee for the Archdiocese’ Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program.

This interim figure will likely go up.

After a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury investigation chronicled more than 1,000 allegations of child sexual abuse by 301 priests across the commonwealth, all but one diocese in the commonwealth announced they would be offering reparations.

Sept. 30 was the deadline for people who have already told the archdiocese they plan to submit a claim to file them. Compensation funds administered on behalf of the Diocese of Allentown, Scranton, and Pittsburgh also wind down at the same time.

Each program functions slightly differently, with different amounts of settlement funds available. The average award from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is $235,000, according to Stengel.

Statewide, the awards average about $125,000, said Ben Andreozzi, a Harrisburg-based lawyer who represents dozens of victims of Catholic clergy.

The numbers in Philadelphia give some insight into a program seen by supporters as a restorative process and by critics as a cynical move to reduce liability.

Of the 578 people who registered abuse claims with the Philadelphia Archdiocese, 449 have actually submitted them, Stengel said.

Out of that number, only 156 have completed the process, which takes around three months. Around 2% of people have turned down a settlement amount offered.

“I don’t think any amount of money could compensate people enough,” said Stengel, a former federal judge. “But the fact that 98% of the people receiving offers from the claims administrators are accepting them are pretty strong evidence that they’re adequate and fair.”

Andreozzi disagreed, saying, “For these survivors, this program was essentially jammed down their throat, because they had no other option and they acted in desperation.”

Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, a diocese would have paid roughly twice as much and, in bankruptcy court, about three times as much, he said.

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, with testimony from victims of childhood sexual abuse, constitutional scholars, and others.

The timing is coincidental, Senate officials say.

Previous efforts to lift the statute-of-limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse failed have in Harrisburg.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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