On Monday, November 19, 2018, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, announced that the Archdiocese along with every diocese in the state of New Jersey will offer a compensation program for survivors of sexual abuse.
New Jersey has four dioceses and one archdiocese. The dioceses include Paterson, Trenton, Metuchen, and Camden. In making the announcement, Tobin noted that all New Jersey dioceses will participate and will offer survivors a chance to come forward and tell their stories. The program will include all survivors who were abused in New Jersey regardless of the statute of limitations.
The details of the plan have not been announced. Last week, the dioceses in Pennsylvania made a similar announcement. Most of the plans are administered by the law firm of Kenneth Feinberg in Washington, DC.
The Catholic Church in New Jersey has already paid out more than $50 million in financial settlements to those who were sexually abused as children by members of the clergy or diocesan employees in the state.
In addition to financial compensation, this new program will establish “permanent funding” for counseling for abuse survivors.
There have been 156 priests and religious affiliated with Catholic dioceses in New Jersey who have been publicly accused of abuse. That number is likely low and will most likely increase. In addition to announcing the compensation program, Tobin stated that the Catholic dioceses of the state will announce those names of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.
The compensation program will only cover priests associated with the New Jersey dioceses however. Accusations have surfaced against order priests as well as diocesan priests in New Jersey. In July, for instance, a letter sent to alumni and others affiliated with the Delbarton School in Morris Township said 13 monks from St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the school, had been accused of sexually abusing 30 people over the past three decades.
Those who came forward included former Delbarton students as well as a parishioner at St. James Church in Basking Ridge and former students of St. Elizabeth of Hungary School in Linden, which was staffed by the abbey, the letter said.
Abuse advocates remain skeptical given the Catholic Church’s track record, especially in light of the Cardinal McCarrick scandal, victims of whom resided in New Jersey.
Robert Hoatson, who heads the group Road to Recovery, which advocates for abuse victims, expressed skepticism, saying the church has done a poor job of policing itself in matters of sex abuse.
“How can we trust them, because for decades we have gotten nothing but coverups and obfuscations and inaccurate information?” said Hoatson, a former Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Newark.
In other states, he said, there were wide discrepancies between church lists of abusive priests and those identified in public investigations.
“We need total, compete and absolute transparency from the church,” he said. “All files of clergy who have sexually abused children, teens and vulnerable adults should be released so that the public and parishioners and Catholics can feel as if the church is getting a handle on this.”
If you or a loved one have been sexually abused by a Catholic priest in New Jersey, please contact me as soon as possible. We have been advocating for Catholic Church abuse survivors for two decades across the country.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.