Leading victim's attorney responds to California Bishops move to create a "victims compensation fund" for alleged clergy abuse victims. Victims should have legal representation before giving up their options for civil justice, according to Irwin Zalkin, San Diego based victims attorney.
San Diego, CA, May 17, 2019 --(PR.com)-- On Tuesday, several Catholic diocese in California, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of San Diego, announced the formation of a “victim’s compensation fund” that would serve as an alternative to the filing of a civil lawsuit by a victim of Catholic Clergy child sexual abuse.
Several Catholic diocese in New York created similar funds before the impending passage of the long-awaited New York Child Victim’s Act. Due to The New York dioceses creating the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (“IRCP”), alleged child sexual abuse victims whose claims had been foreclosed by the statute of limitations may opt to make a claim to the fund instead of waiting for the Child Victim’s Act to pass, which would have had the option to enable them to file a civil lawsuit for money damages.
“Having represented hundreds of childhood sexual abuse victims by religious and other organizations over the past twenty years, I would advise victims to be very cautious,” said attorney Irwin Zalkin of The Zalkin Law Firm.
Zalkin states, “While the relative ease of seeking recovery through a victim’s compensation fund may seem appealing to alleged priest abuse victims, there are numerous pitfalls that far outweigh any potential benefits. The biggest risk and drawback for victims is the fact that these funds have a fixed monetary ceiling that is established by the diocese(s) establishing the fund without regard to the expected or actual number of claims made. Therefore, the more claims are made, the less amount of money can be allocated to each claim, no matter how horrible the alleged abuse suffered by the individual claimant or how much the Diocese allegedly facilitated the abuse by protecting the perpetrator priests.”
Survivor organizations like SNAP, Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests, have also cautioned alleged victims not to rush toward this as a settlement for their claims. SNAP issued a statement on Tuesday that stated in part:
“We believe that the best way to expose wrongdoing and enforce accountability is for crimes to be made public and for punishment and compensation to be meted out by courts, not the institutions that allowed the wrongdoing to happen in the first place. Survivors deserve a chance to have their day in court and shed light on their abuse, and that can only happen when statutes of limitations are reformed, civil windows are opened, and bishops are held accountable in courts of law.”
Legal options may be available in the future for California victims. The California Legislature is currently considering Assembly Bill 218, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, CA. This legislation, which has already passed the State Assembly and is working its way through committees in the State Senate, will amend California’s current statute of limitations in civil cases of childhood sexual abuse. AB 218 will revive cases that are time barred by the current statute of limitations for a period of 3 years. If passed and signed into law by Governor Newsom, AB 218 will enable older victims to file civil lawsuits against institutions like the Catholic Dioceses in California for alleged sexual abuse they suffered as children at the hands of Catholic Clergy and other religious actors.
About The Zalkin Law Firm
With offices in San Diego, CA and New York, NY, the firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault and achieved results in numerous high-profile sexual abuse and assault cases across the United States. The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented survivors who allegedly suffered child sexual abuse and sexual assault while members of religious and other organizations, including the Catholic Church, foster care, Boy Scouts, recovery homes, foreign student exchange programs, colleges and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Irwin Zalkin was appointed a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego. These negotiations resulted in a global settlement of almost $200,000,000. He also was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles where a global settlement was reached in the amount of $660,000,000.
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