TRENTON — Beginning June 15, 2019, the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program (IVCP) will begin accepting claims related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests or deacons of the Roman Catholic dioceses of Newark, Paterson, Metuchen, Camden and Trenton.
The IVCP is administered by Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, two noted victims’ compensation experts who have designed and administered similar programs for the Catholic dioceses in New York and Pennsylvania. They also have administered programs for Penn State sexual abuse claims, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Fund, and OneFund Boston and OneFund Orlando programs arising out of terrorist attacks.
The IVCP has been established to compensate eligible victims who were sexually abused while minors by clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. This program is endorsed by all five Roman Catholic dioceses and their bishops who are united in supporting abuse survivors by providing them with an efficient alternative to litigation, which is both speedy and transparent, to resolve their claims with a significantly lower level of proof and corroboration than required in a court of law.
IVCP Administrators, Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros, will operate independently of the Diocese or any Church-affiliated institution in handling the submission, evaluation and resolution of individual claims. The Administrators will have complete autonomy to determine the eligibility of a claim within the guidelines of the established Protocol. The amount of compensation for those who make a claim will be determined by the IVCP Administrators. The program is available to all who were sexually abused as minors by a member of the clergy of the Diocese, no matter when the abuse occurred.
Funding for this program will not include contributions made by parishioners to the Diocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal, or the diocesan endowment campaign, Faith to Move Mountains.
The program will be administered in two phases. Phase I deals with claimants who previously filed a complaint directly to diocesan officials about sexual abuse, prior to the establishment of the IVCP, and who have not had their cases settled. Beginning June 17, 2019, these claimants will be sent an IVCP claim packet from the Administrators.
Phase II of the IVCP, which opens June 15, will permit new claimants – who did not previously file a complaint with the Diocese – to register in order to have their claims considered. If deemed potentially eligible by the Administrators, these individuals will be sent information regarding the Phase II claims process. Their claims will similarly be reviewed and subsequently processed by the two independent Administrators.
If an individual victim accepts the amount offered by the Administrators, a signed release will be required in which the victim agrees not to engage in any further litigation against the particular diocese. This will be the only time that a claimant will be required to consult with an attorney; for the sole purpose of advising the claimant concerning the language and binding nature of the release. If the claimant does not have an attorney, the Administrators shall provide an attorney to consult with the claimant for this stipulated purpose free of charge.
Information included in the submitted claims will be maintained in strict confidence by the Administrators, but must be forwarded to the office of the County Prosecutor where the abuse occurred by both the registrant and the Diocese for review by law enforcement.
The deadline for registration of new allegations with the program is October 31, 2019. The filing deadline for both Phase I and Phase II claims is December 31, 2019.
Victims of clergy sexual abuse of minors can begin the claims process by going to www.NJdiocesesIVCP.com and review the program Protocol and Frequently Asked Questions. Anyone who was sexually victimized as a minor by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Trenton is strongly encouraged to participate in the IVCP. The Diocese also asks that anyone who knows of someone who was abused to pass along this information to the victim so that he or she is aware of the IVCP.