SCRANTON (October 29, 2020) – The Diocese of Scranton today released its report regarding the Independent Survivors Compensation Program.
The independently-run Program provided more than $24 million to 213 survivors of abuse committed by Diocese of Scranton priests, members of religious communities and lay employees. The Diocese created the Program in January 2019 to publicly recognize the harm caused to survivors of abuse and demonstrate the Church’s commitment to those survivors.
The full report is available on the Diocese of Scranton website and the ISCP website.
“While no amount of money can take away a survivor’s pain and suffering, my hope has always been that it will aid in their healing and recovery,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said. “No child should ever face abuse. For those who have endured pain, I once again say, I am sorry. As bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, I take my obligation to support survivors of abuse very seriously.”
The Independent Survivors Compensation Program was purely voluntary and open to individuals who had submitted a complaint of sexual abuse to the Diocese before the program was first announced as well as individuals who had not previously submitted a complaint.
All new complaints of abuse received through the Program must also have been reported to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office.
Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two nationally recognized claims administration experts, designed and administered the Program. The administrators retained complete and sole discretion over eligibility and compensation offers to eligible survivors. The Diocese of Scranton could not reject any of the administrators’ final determinations regarding eligibility and/or compensation.
“We were pleased to provide a non-adversarial forum for the victims without regard to the statute of limitations,” Biros said. “Though no amount of money could provide closure to these victims, we believe our Program was a small step in helping victims by acknowledging, validating and resolving their claims through our Program.”
The Program has also been monitored by an Independent Oversight Committee comprised of Robert Gillespie, Jr., former Luzerne County District Attorney, Ralph H. Meyer, President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus with Guthrie Healthcare System and Robin Engels, MA, MSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker.
All claimants who accepted awards have been paid in full. By choosing to accept the offered compensation, the individual waives any future legal claim against the Diocese of Scranton related to their sexual abuse claims.
The Independent Survivors Compensation Program has been primarily funded by the sale proceeds of the Diocese of Scranton’s three long-term care facilities in 2019 and the subsequent transfer of assets held by these three facilities. In addition, some funding was provided by the Diocese of Scranton insurers and contributions from other religious orders.
The Diocese did not use any funds that had been given by the faithful to support parishes, schools, the Diocesan Annual Appeal, Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton or any donor-restricted contributions.
“As the body of Christ, the Church is called to be an instrument of healing. It is called to stand with those who are hurting and oppressed. We will continue to do that with compassion in the weeks, months and years ahead,” Bishop Bambera added. “I ask for your continued prayers for all those who have suffered abuse.”
The Diocese of Scranton maintains a zero tolerance policy for clergy, lay employees and volunteers who engage in misconduct with minors and takes immediate action when an accusation is made.
The Diocese offers counseling, spiritual guidance and pastoral care for anyone impacted by clergy abuse in the Diocese of Scranton.
Any individual who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the Diocese is urged to report abuse directly to law enforcement. If you have suffered abuse by clergy or anyone working on behalf of the Diocese, you are also encouraged to contact Victim Assistance Coordinator, Mary Beth Pacuska, at (570) 862-7551.