Brooklyn diocese launches fund for abuse victims

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The Diocese of Brooklyn established a fund to compensate victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy, its bishop said Thursday.

The settlement program — which offers money in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and was announced by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio days after the state Senate killed a bill that would open the Catholic Church to a flood of lawsuits — offers immediate recourse to victims as lawmakers in Albany continue to twiddle their thumbs, according to a lawyer portrayed in the Oscar-award-winning film, “Spotlight.”

“It’s certainly beneficial for some victims, who enter the fund with the hope of gaining validation, healing, and moving on with their lives,” said Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 13 victims of sexual abuse in Brooklyn. “Others will wait for the legislature to change the statute of limitation laws.”

The Brooklyn fund is modeled after one established last year by the Archdiocese of New York, both of which are administered by a pair of attorneys that oversaw the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The diocese established the program after witnessing the success of the archdiocese’s fund, not in response to the push for legislative reform, according to a spokeswoman who said the Child Victim Act — a bill to relax the statute of limitations on child abuse that passed in the state Assembly and was supported by Gov. Cuomo before dying in the Senate earlier this month — has faced obstacles in Albany for years.

“They’ve been debating that legislation since 2005, and it’s going on 12 years with nothing passed,” said Carolyn Erstad. “So it’s pretty obvious that is not the motivating force here.”

But some challenges to that bill can be traced to the church, which spent more than $2 million between 2007 and 2015 on lobbyists to combat statute of limitations reforms, according to a New York Daily News report.

The Diocese of Brooklyn — which oversees 211 churches and 186 parishes in Brooklyn and Queens — identified 280 victims of clergy abuse dating to 1934 as part of “phase one” of the settlement program, and is in the process of inviting them or their families to apply to it, according to Erstad.

Those who participate are not required to sign a confidentiality agreement but must waive their right to bring their cases to court, where they could stand to receive larger settlements and force the church to reveal information including the identities of abusive priests and sealed records showing church officials ignored victims’ complaints, according to an attorney who represents victims throughout the city.

“It effectively hides the truth,” said Jeff Anderson.

And while the diocese’s reputation suffered under past leaders who sheltered abusers, its work under Bishop DiMarzio to prevent further attacks is commendable, according to a Brooklynite who was abused and plans on applying to the fund.

“It’s done a complete 360,” said Anthony Hughes. “There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it — they do everything right.”

But no amount of money will erase the painful memories victims carry, according to Garabedian.

“There’s no victim I’ve ever represented who would not in a second give back all the money to not be sexually abused,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mary says:
The RCC's bigger scandals are its FORCED abortions to "save the chaste reputations" of hypocrite nuns and priests, and the deadly gruesome medical trafficking of ugly unwanted forced birth kids like me. My childbirth-ruined mother was ordered by a playboy Baltimore area priest to burn me head to toe as her anti-contraception abstinence only excuse. Aborting me would have been much kinder than her Catholic Munchausen by Proxy medical abuse.
June 27, 2017, 7:38 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Will they raise anywhere close to the $2.1 million that Cardinal Timothy Dolan spent to successfully block The Child Victims Act here in New York? Will they do anything to make it easier for the families of LGBT teens that this despicable organization bullied into suicide? Can they un-spread the cases of HIV/AIDS they caused by sending missionaries to Africa to tell people not to use condoms? ...I didn't think so.
June 27, 2017, 8:41 am
Carlo Trigiani from Brooklyn Heights says:
Once again, the Catholic Church fails us. It starts with a lack of transparency. It's Bishop DiMarzio's responsibility to a) bring abusers to justice, b) compensate the victims and beg for their forgiveness and c) never let these atrocities happen again. Paying lobbyists, administering funds to pay victims discounted settlements, hiding abusers while spinning the narrative leave this Catholic empty. I encourage everyone to contact the Bishop (718 399-5950) and let him know how you feel. Most importantly - send a message he'll understand - stop giving! The Catholic Church is yours, not his.
June 27, 2017, 10:01 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
“Anti-Catholicism,” said writer Peter Viereck, “is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual.” It is “the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people,” said Arthur Schlesinger Sr.
June 27, 2017, 10:41 am
David says:

The "Child Victims Act", has a Proven, Evidence Based track record in MANY other states around the country...But is NOT ALLOWED here in NY.  ***Why?***

 - Hundreds of Predator Pediphiles have been Exposed in Unsuspecting communities throughout the U.S. EXCEPT IN NY.  ***WHY?***

 - Many Victims of Child Rape, have finally recieved the Justice they were once Denied under "Antiquated" Laws & have also been Validated & Freed from a Life Sentence of living in "TORMENTED SILENCE". EXCEPT IN NY.  ***WHY?***

Of ALL those who were Sexually Abused as Children:
 - 57% are Incest,
 - 39% are teachers, coaches, babysitters etc.
 - 4% in Religious communities
Of the 4%, Less than 1% Come from Catholic(Priests, Nuns).


Last year(Sept. 2016) the Pennsylvania Attorney General empaneled a Grand Jury to Investigate Bishop Barres and his diocese of Allentown Pa. as a result of rampant "Child Rape".
***That Grand Jury is STILL Investigating bishop Barres and his diocese of Allentown.***

...Guess WHO Pope Francis SHUFFELED OUT OF ALLENTOWN TO LONG ISLAND, NY's Diocese of Rockville Centre, to Replace bishop Murphy(From Boston. Did you see "SPOTLIGHT")


Bottom Line…
The bishops take their orders from the only true country they recognize as being Above ALL. That country is a 100 acre museum whose illegitimate sovereignty was given them by blackmailing Musolini for the catholic vote.
…in other word, “the bishops and their minions are nothing but Foriegn Agents”.

Thank god, the world is slowly waking to this fact.

June 27, 2017, 1:01 pm
Toonie from Williamsburg says:
This is DISGUSTING! Priests just go around humping people?!? Da fug??
It's not for you, HONEY ! Not the genitals, not the no-no hole, not the fingers, not your tongue!! Don't do it!
June 28, 2017, 5:37 pm
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
One message to priests - keep your hands off this fine Chinese Puerto Rican Pooter ! Don't touch!
June 29, 2017, 3:28 am
Enough is enough from Queens says:
They should compensate ALL the victims regardless of age and the statute of limitations. Give back all the the money their parents paid in tuition in today's dollars, all the money they spent for therapy and the years of pain and suffering they endured for years and years. These people are broken. The church did this, they covered up and turned a blind eye giving these pigs full access to these kids time and time again. Sell some churches and give up your lavish lifestyles to compensate for the emotional damage YOU caused. Enough is enough!

Friend of one the victims.
July 5, 2017, 10:01 pm

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