Attorneys and victims of sexual abuse skeptical of Catholic Church's compensations

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Legal experts and victims of childhood sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church are skeptical about the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Fund.

The NJIVCF opened this weekend after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law to expand the state's civil statute of limitation on sexual abuse victims. The law's aim was to give survivors who were previously time-barred from suing their abusers two years to file a claim in court. The bill will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2019.

The fund is a joint venture of the five Roman Catholic Dioceses in the state: Newark, Paterson, Metuchen, Trenton and Camden.

RELATED: Law firm releases names of 311 New Jersey clergy accused of abuse 
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Gregory Gianforcaro, a victim's attorney, says that the Catholic church's financial compensation does not come from a place of compassion. He says he believes if the state did not open their statute of limitations, the compensation package would not have existed.

But Diocese of Trenton spokeswoman Rayanne Bennet says that the IVCP was in development since last fall and was announced in February 2019 - months before a decision was reached on lifting the statute of limitations.

Washington DC law firm Feinberg and Biros will oversee the compensation program, review the case of each alleged victim and then offer victims a settlement. They will determine the amount offered and it will be paid by the corresponding diocese.

Church officials will have no authority to challenge the decisions or amounts awarded determined by the law firm.

Gianforcaro says that he has been litigating abuse cases against the Catholic Church for years and says he appreciates the church officials helping victims. But he says he will remain skeptical of the compensation fund until the personnel files of the priests are opened up.

More information about the NJIVCF can be found here.





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