Independent Administrators Award $16.02 Million to 97 Applicants
The Independent Oversight Committee has issued the final report on the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was created by the Diocese of Allentown in 2019 to provide compensation for victims of clergy sexual abuse as one aspect of their healing.
Here is the committee’s report:
“The Independent Administrators received a total of 106 applications. They awarded compensation of $16.02 million to 97 applicants. The Independent Administrators also made offers to six other applicants, who rejected the offers. Three applicants to the program were deemed ineligible.
Here is a summary:
Applications Received: 106
Claims Paid: 97 ($16.02 million)
Offers Rejected by Applicants: 6 ($1.18 million)
Claims Deemed Ineligible: 3
The Independent Oversight Committee, by Edward N. Cahn, Lisa Garbacik, Rich Grucela”
Here is some background on the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program:
The program was administered completely independent of the Diocese by Washington D.C.-based Attorney Kenneth Feinberg and his colleague, Camille Biros, who have a national reputation for fairness and independence in compensating victims of clergy sexual abuse and other tragedies. The program was open for applications from April 23, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2019.
To help ensure autonomy, the Independent Oversight Committee operated without influence or control from the Diocese of Allentown. The committee oversaw and periodically reviewed the implementation and administration of the program. The oversight committee was chaired by The Honorable Edward N. Cahn, former Chief U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania now retired. Other members were Lisa B. Garbacik, Executive Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator at Cedar Crest College; and The Honorable Richard Grucela, former State Representative for District 137 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
The Diocese raised the funds for victim compensation by borrowing money, by selling unused property to repay the loans, and by using available cash. The Diocese did not use parish or school assets, pension fund assets, or contributions to the Annual Appeal for the fund.
Applying to the fund was voluntary, and applicants were not required to accept offers made by the administrators.
Raising money to pay for the program placed the operations of the Diocese under severe financial stress. Nevertheless, the Diocese continues to work diligently to continue its pastoral and charitable mission for the communities in its five counties: Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill.