A Pennsylvania man is coming at an end to his visit of several Bronx community boards, having brought a message he feels is given little publicity: If you’re a victim of sex abuse by a clergy member from the New York Archdiocese, you’re entitled to compensation through a temporary program set to expire at the end of July.
For Shaun Dougherty, the New York Archdiocese has done little to promote it.
“They should be shouting this from the rooftops. They have the means to make it very aware,” Dougherty, the man taking his message across the Bronx, told the Norwood News. “Instead of making them aware and jumping out in front of this, and taking care of these people, and fixing this problem, they’re just dangling it out there and not really talking about it.”
Dougherty is referring to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) the archdiocese launched in October last year. Financed through a loan secured by the archdiocese, the program offers compensation to those victimized by Catholic priests assigned within the New York Archdiocese. A mediator, Kenneth Feinberg, is charged with vetting each sex abuse case to determine compensation.
For Dougherty, who plans to visit Community Board 10 in the East Bronx tonight, the community board path is the best way to take his message directly to the people. There are 36 Catholic Churches that fall under the New York Archdiocese spread across the Bronx, 86 in Manhattan, and 31 in Staten Island.
“Since I became active with the group Lawyers Helping Victims of Child Sex Abuse, that that’s been my goal: to try to bring as much awareness as I possibly can, to help make people aware that the programming exist,” Dougherty, a sex abuse victim himself, said.
The program is in its second phase, with the archdiocese calling on victims who’ve never made a complaint against the Catholic Church until now to come forward. But approaching the IRCP is not a guarantee they will receive help. In its first phase, which helped those who’ve previously filed sex abuse claims, 31 of 175 victims eligible for compensation took an undisclosed offer. The New York Daily News first reported the figures.
The program is open to anyone with a valid case of sex abuse regardless of whether the abuse passed the five-year statute of limitations. Dougherty recommends anyone with a claim should bring a lawyer.
“See what’s available to you. See what they’re offering,” Dougherty said. “There are people out there who suffer from this every day of their lives, they don’t have anybody to talk to about it. They don’t have access to therapists they don’t have access to medications. That’s all a click or phone call away through this program.”
Editor’s Note: For more information, log on to www.childsexabuse.org.