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Diocese extends deadline for abuse victims’ compensation program

St. Agnes Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese

St. Agnes Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, on Oct. 5, 2017. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Diocese of Rockville Centre has set a new deadline of March 31 for people who say they were sexually abused by clergy to apply for its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

The new deadline is for Phase One of the program, which is for people who previously filed complaints with the diocese.

The program provides victims with financial compensation if they agree not to take legal action against the diocese in the future. It was modeled after programs launched in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn.

This is the second time the Rockville Centre diocese has postponed the deadline. The entire program was announced in October, with an initial deadline of Dec. 31 for Phase One. That was pushed back in mid-December to Jan. 31.

Camille Biros, one of the program’s administrators, said the deadline was extended again because some people need extra time to complete the application, a process that typically involves reliving painful memories.

“We are heartened to see survivors come forward in Phase One,” said Bishop John Barres, head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “We pray that others find the strength to come forward at this time with the hope of experiencing some measure of healing and reconciliation.”

Biros said 126 people have applied for Phase One out of 181 who were eligible.

Phase Two, which is scheduled to start Feb. 1 and end April 30, is for people who have not previously filed complaints with the diocese.

Letters with financial compensation offers already have been sent to 55 Phase One applicants, Biros said. She declined to discuss the amounts of the suggested settlements.

“I think it’s gone extraordinarily well,” Biros said of Phase One.

As with the programs in the New York archdiocese and the Brooklyn diocese, she said, “I think for the most part claimants are interested in the program and happy that there is an entity that will listen to their story and come up with some suggested settlement offer for them to consider.”

All three programs are 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 independently determine who is eligible for compensation and how much money is offered.

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