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Rockville Centre diocese proposes $200 million clergy sex abuse fund

Parishioners worship during a Mass at St. Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese. After more than a decade of investigations into sexual abuse in Pennsylvania's Catholic Church, last year's grand jury report still contained new revelations.
Jeff Swensen
Getty Images
Parishioners worship during a Mass at St. Paul Cathedral.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island proposed a $200 million fund for settlements to be paid to hundreds of clergy sex abuse survivors.

Over 600 survivors sued the diocese under the 2019 Child Victims Act. Under the proposed settlement, each survivor could receive up to $400,000, not including insurance payouts.

“The Diocese is continuing to work in good faith towards a resolution of abuse claims, including those claims against parishes, in a way that lawfully, equitably, and fairly compensates survivors and allows the church to continue her essential mission,” said Sean Dolan, Diocese’s director of communications.

However, survivors say this deal is not enough. Their attorneys have countered with a $400 million dollar proposal, arguing that the diocese undervalued its financial worth.

The diocese declared bankruptcy in 2020 after a wave of litigation the year prior and a separate $62 million settlement was paid to 350 survivors in 2017.

Both sides argue that the other is dragging out negotiations. Dolan said “litigation consumes resources that could otherwise be available to survivors,” while attorneys for the survivors claim that the church is delaying the proceedings.

“It’s in essence a forced settlement because the survivors of child sexual abuse have not agreed to this,” said Jordan Merson, a survivor’s lawyer.

According to court records, some of the cases go back as far as 1957, when the diocese first opened. The settlement money will come from the sale of the diocese’s headquarters, which is worth $5.2 million.

Xenia Gonikberg is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2023.