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With Second Phase Open, Compensation Program Called ‘Extremely Successful’
By JOHN WOODS

With the application process now open for the second phase of the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) for victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse, 27 people had been sent applications as of March 8 and are potentially eligible for the program.

They are among 100 people who registered for Phase II of the program. In many cases, the claims of abuse submitted did not involve clergy of the Archdiocese of New York and have been forwarded to the appropriate dioceses or religious congregations.

The deadline for submission of claim forms for Phase II, which is open to individuals who have not previously come forward to the archdiocese with claims of abuse by archdiocesan clergy, is July 31.

Cardinal Dolan announced the establishment of IRCP at a press conference in the New York Catholic Center last October.

In Phase I of the IRCP, 144 people who had previously submitted claims of sexual abuse by archdiocesan clergy were contacted.

As of March 8, 76 individuals have received settlement offers and 50 have accepted their offers. No one has rejected the settlement offer so far, according to attorney Camille Biros, one of the program’s administrators, who indicated that the processing of Phase I claims will be finished by the end of this month.

Ms. Biros is administering the program along with attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who worked as a mediator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

She told CNY that she believes “the (IRCP) program has been extremely successful.”

“We have been able to review the files and the newly submitted supporting documentation in an expeditious manner and have been successful in reaching out to claimants or their attorneys if and when necessary. All have been extremely cooperative.”

Ms. Biros said the fact that no Phase I claimant has rejected a settlement offer so far “is not unusual at all” for a program of this type.

“It has been our experience with these compensation programs that individuals are anxious for some type of resolution of an outstanding claim and welcome this alternative approach to resolution,” she said.

“This type of program is designed for efficiency and transparency of the process.”

Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling, speaking of IRCP, said, “Everyone is pleased with how the program is going.”

Remarking on the perfect rate of acceptance of settlement offers, Zwilling added, “It’s an indication that the program is working. People are being treated fairly, justly and with compassion. That’s evidenced by their response to the program.”

Zwilling also confirmed published reports that the archdiocese is seeking to take out a $100 million mortgage on valuable real estate it owns near St. Patrick’s Cathedral to cover the costs of the settlements to victims.

The mortgage will be on land the archdiocese owns underneath the Lotte New York Palace Hotel as well as the landmark mansions known as the Villard Houses, on Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets.

“This is a short-term loan so that we can pay out the compensation that is being awarded,” Zwilling said.

Once a final tally of the amounts of the settlements is known, Zwilling said that the archdiocese planned to take out a longer-term loan to pay off the mortgage.

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