EXCLUSIVE: Leaked transcript shows NY church’s attempt to block Child Victims Act.
In a meeting with church leaders, Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s settlement program administrator outlined the politics of reconciliation.
due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people have since filed lawsuits under its provisions against the church and other institutions, leading several New York dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection.In response to questions from ABC News, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for Cardinal Dolan, told ABC News that the program was established to “address the desire of victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse to find healing and compensation.”
“It was a voluntary program, offering compensation without the need to engage in drawn-out and difficult litigation,” Zwilling said. “The program was very successful in achieving that goal for a large number of victim-survivors who came forward, who expressed their gratitude and relief at the respect and compassion with which they were treated by all involved. The program was offered to state lawmakers as a possible model for an alternative to litigation as passed in the Child Victims Act. We still believe that the program has great merit, and continue to offer it to victim-survivors who desire to participate in the program.”
But he declined to address Feinberg’s comments directly and did not respond to questions about whether those comments accurately reflected Cardinal Dolan’s motivations for introducing the settlement program.“As far as Mr. Feinberg’s comments, you would have to ask him,” Zwilling said. “Cardinal Dolan was not a participant in that call, and cannot comment on what he may or may not have said.” headtopics.com
When reached by ABC News, Feinberg issued a brief statement touting the “success” of the program.“Just in the state of New York, we have resolved 1,346 cases and have paid out $258 mil (all funds provided by the NY dioceses),” Feinberg said. “The program has been extremely well received and individual abuse claims continue to be received and processed notwithstanding the change in the NY statute.”
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images, FILEAttorney Kenneth Feinberg speaks on stage at National Museum of American Jewish History, Dec. 19, 2019, in Philadelphia.(MORE: Scandal-plagued Buffalo Bishop resigns following Vatican review of his diocese)Dolan, one of the most powerful American cleric in the Catholic Church, has previously dismissed suggestions that the introduction of the settlement program was connected to New York lawmakers’ consideration of the Child Victims Act.
“Look, I can’t wait around wondering what Albany is going to do or not going to do. If I did, I’d never accomplish anything!”Dolan told Catholic New York in Oct. 2016. “But, regardless of what happens in the state Legislature, I believe that the IRCP is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it.”
But on the teleconference, Feinberg said the “movement afoot in Albany” was a key reason why Dolan “decided to bite the bullet and create a program.” The benefits of the program, as Feinberg described it, were twofold.First, it would create a “compensation matrix,” or a range of possible payouts depending on the severity of the alleged abuse, agreed upon by the program’s administrators and the dioceses, Feinberg said, that “affords us wide leeway, wide range, so we could govern the amount of compensation” to victims. headtopics.com
“One very important principle that is guiding that various Dioceses in Manhattan and Long Island is the fear that if the statute is reopened, and there are people who did not participate earlier and sign a release in this program, some of the allegations may resolve on the courthouse steps with a $5,000,000 demand or a $2,000,000 demand,” Feinberg said. “Right now, we have not paid any claim, however horrific, at more than $500,000.”
“Clearly, the Dioceses [sic] wants as many releases at $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000,” Feinberg added, “rather than a $1,000,000 or $2,000,000.”Feinberg, meanwhile, is highly regarded in the legal community, having been enlisted to oversee the distribution of monetary compensation to victims of a number of high-profile catastrophes — from the September 11th attacks to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.
When Dolan introduced Feinberg as the administrator of the settlement program, he assured the public that the “renowned mediator” would have “complete autonomy in deciding compensation for victim-survivors.”“The archdiocese,” Dolan pledged, “has agreed that it will abide by their decisions.”
Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images, FILEArchbishop of New York Timothy Dolan speaks to people at the end of the service inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, June 28, 2020 in New York.(MORE: Buffalo bishop returned priest accused of abuse to ministry after ‘thorough’ investigation. Others call it ‘a sham’) headtopics.com
But throughout the private teleconference, Feinberg displayed a coziness with church leaders, a skepticism toward those coming forward to file claims and, at times, even an apparent distain for some alleged victims.In creating the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, Feinberg said that Dolan “emphasized” that his team would have “absolute, delegated, full authority” to determine eligibility and compensation but added that the Archdiocese worked with them to create both the rules of the program and the compensation matrix.
Feinberg’s colleague Biros suggested that the administrators have remained in close contact with church leaders even as they began processing claims.“I just want everyone to be aware that once we take over and implement the program, it remains an open dialogue with the Diocese,” Biros said. “We are constantly on the phone with New York, Brooklyn and now Rockville Center. If we have any questions about the priests, the file, the claimant, they are an incredible resource to us.”
Feinberg claimed that some alleged victims were filing what he called “soapbox claims,” or frivolous claims that lacked a history of supporting documentation, which he called both “stressful” and “unfair.”“Private claimants are increasingly gaming the system by filing … new claims against untarnished clergy or are filing new claims knowing that a previous member of the clergy has already been deemed responsible,” Feinberg said. “’Well, we found another congregate [sic] and we are filing on his behalf, no documentation, no proof, just a bald allegation.’”
He also dismissed the notion that settlements could or should include additional reimbursements for counseling for victims.“If you asked somebody how to get them to sign a release – counseling or a check? He will take the check,” Feinberg said. “We can say, we get a release, we are done. Look, if someone wants more help, they can pay for it.”
Feinberg appears to have been well aware that alleged victims would feel pressure to accept offers because, prior to the enactment of the Child Victims Act, they had no other legal options. Read more: ABC News »
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Maybe allowing priests to have family’s of their own would be a good step so they aren’t trying to get their hand on other’s children (boys). Disgusting 🤮 Stop going to church Allow them marry so they will stop raping little children,taking away there innocency,so evil of those Popes Sick! Dolan is a powerful political animal. He’s as holy as a street hustler
Religion is so medieval, we are in 2021 people Science and Rational thinking is the answer. A dónde van los curas... Religon is terrorism. Not shocking. The Pope needs to replace Cardinal Dolan I had no idea the church had the power to block legislature. When did they elect a representative? This is the reason I left the catholic church. Lies and cover up. It's disgusting.