FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Joe Connelly: [email protected] | 617.838.7120
Catholic Church’s Independent Victims Compensation Program in California is a Thinly Veiled Attempt to Buy Silence
Los Angeles, CA (October 14, 2019) – Zero Abuse Project today issued the following statement from Joelle Casteix, a founding board member of Zero Abuse Project and former Western Regional Leader of SNAP, on the Catholic Church’s Independent Victims Compensation Program. Six California Dioceses – the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Dioceses of Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and San Diego – are participating in the program, which offers monetary compensation to some survivors of childhood sexual abuse by particular priests. In exchange, the offending diocese will have no obligation to release documents that would demonstrate the extent to which Church officials knew about and covered up alleged abuse. Additionally, the diocese(s) are not required nor compelled to release names of accused priests.
“We understand that for some survivors, the Catholic Church’s compensation program may be an option. We support all survivors coming forward – whenever, however, and if ever they are ready. But we must ensure survivors know the Church’s program is not well-intentioned. To be as clear as possible: The Independent Victims Compensation Program enables the Church to settle for pennies on the dollar, while binding survivors to secrecy.
“With Assembly Bill 218 now law, the Catholic Church in California recognizes that they are facing an entirely new level of exposure and scrutiny. The scope and scale of the abuse and cover-up will be catastrophic and embarrassing to the Church hierarchy. They will do anything to shortchange victims in their attempt to keep Church secrets away from the courthouse and public. However, their efforts may be in violation of 2016’s California Assembly Bill 1682 which prohibits stipulations in a civil settlement for childhood sexual abuse that prevent the disclosure of factual information pertinent to the case.
“If the Catholic Church is truly committed to accepting responsibility for the decades of abuse they perpetrated and covered up, and sincerely wants survivors to receive justice, they should halt their deceptive actions. They must be completely transparent about the true intentions of the Independent Victims Compensation Program. Survivors have the right to know their options and make an informed choice about what is best for them. To protect kids from abuse right now, the Church must be held fully accountable today and every day thereafter.”
Joelle Casteix testified as the main witness on behalf of AB 218 in Sacramento. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse in California and successfully sued the Catholic Church in 2002. Joelle is now a leading national spokesperson and advocate for other survivors. She is a founding board member of Zero Abuse Project. She is the former Western Regional Leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.