Archdiocese's new program is better than filing lawsuits for some abuse victims

By Marci Hamilton (NY Daily News)
October 6, 2016

The Archdiocese of New York's reconciliation and compensation program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse creates a pathway for victims and is modeled on the Penn State approach that paid more than $90 million to settle more than 30 civil claims.

But it is not an argument against the Child Victims Act, the New York State bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan can only provide this alternative path to victims of his archdiocese. And survivors should be able to choose between this path and the legal system. This is a good alternative, not a final solution.

There are many other survivors in New York who will not be helped by this. There are many who would prefer the legal system. But not all victims can weather litigation. For them, this is an option now.

I saw how Kenneth Feinberg - the administrator for Dolan's program - handled the cases in the Penn State scandal. He handled that situation in a humane fashion. It was a vast improvement over the scorched-earth court tactics used by bishops in many jurisdictions.

Marci Hamilton is a victim advocate and attorney who is a distinguished scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at Penn.