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Diocese extends deadline to apply for sex-abuse compensation fund

An exterior view of the Diocese of Rockville

An exterior view of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on April 26, 2016. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

People who previously filed complaints with the Diocese of Rockville Centre that they had been sexually abused by clergy will have an extra month to apply for a new compensation and reconciliation program, officials said Wednesday.

The diocese is shifting the deadline of the program’s first phase from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31 largely because many victims are struggling to complete the paperwork, which involves reliving painful memories, said Camille Biros, one of the program’s administrators.

“Some of them are so traumatized that it is difficult for them to now start to reopen the process and put it down on paper,” Biros said.

The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, announced in mid-October, will provide victims with financial compensation if they agree not to take legal action against the diocese in the future. It was modeled after programs launched over the past year in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Phase One is for victims who previously filed complaints with the diocese, which covers parishes in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Phase Two, to begin sometime in 2018, will be for victims who had not previously filed a complaint.

Of 164 people eligible to apply for Phase One, 60 have submitted their documents, Biros said.

“We are heartened to see survivors come forward, and we hope others will avail themselves of the program,” said Bishop John Barres, spiritual head of the diocese.

Biros said the majority of eligible victims in the New York archdiocese and the Brooklyn diocese have taken part in the programs there.

All three programs are being administered by Biros and Kenneth R. Feinberg, who has headed high-profile compensation programs such as the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Biros is a business manager in Feinberg’s Washington, D.C., law firm.

Feinberg and Biros will independently determine who is eligible for compensation in Rockville Centre and how much money will be offered.

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