In October 2020, the Richmond Catholic Diocese announced a $6.3 million settlement. The settlement will compensate 51 victims of priest abuse. This settlement was the result of the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation Program.
Richmond Diocese’s Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP)
In February 2020, the Richmond Diocese established the Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP). The IRP is a voluntary victim compensation program created to pay child sex abuse victims abused by priests.
The Richmond Diocese advertised the IRP until the filing deadline expired in May 2020.
As of May 15, 2020, the Richmond IRP is no longer accepting new abuse claims.
IRP Closing Report
On October 15, 2020, the Richmond Diocese released a final report on the program. The report noted 68 claims were initiated through the IRP. However, only 60 claims were deemed eligible under the IRP’s requirements.
Of the 60 eligible claims, IRP administrators denied nine claims. Fifty-one claimants were offered compensation. All 51 offers were accepted.
This settlement is one important way the diocese is offering amends to survivors.
“The completion of this program is by no means the end of our efforts to provide for our diocese’s victim survivors. Our outreach is ongoing. We must, and we will, continue to meet victim survivors with support and compassion motivated by our shared love of Jesus Christ.”
How Victim Compensation Programs Impact Victims
Victims compensation funds or programs, such as the Richmond IRP, can benefit victims. Some victims with older cases may find the state’s statute of limitations bar them from filing a civil lawsuit against an abuser.
A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs vary based on the jurisdiction, the crime and the intended legal action (criminal charges versus a civil claim).
A victim compensation program offers these victims a chance to receive compensation.
Drawbacks Of Victim Compensation Programs
There are drawbacks to victim compensation programs. Victims tend to receive less money in the settlement than they may have won through litigation.
The individuals who accepted the Richmond settlement were not tied to confidentiality agreements. But, they did waive their right to sue the Diocese of Richmond by accepting the compensation.
These drawbacks may deter some victims from participating in these programs. Many victims, who are able to, choose to seek justice through the legal system instead.
Catholic Diocese of Richmond. (2020, February 17). Catholic Diocese of Richmond Announces Independent Reconciliation Program.
Catholic Diocese of Richmond. (2020, October). Report on the Independent Reconciliation Program for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond [PDF].
(2020, October 15). Catholic Diocese of Richmond paying $6.3 million to 51 victims sexually abused by clergy. Richmond Times-Dispatch.
(2020, October 16). Richmond Catholic diocese to pay $6.3 million in abuse settlements. Catholic News Agency.