The diocese wants to show that they take sexual abuse allegations against clergy members seriously and are actively trying to compensate victims for their pain and suffering. The compensation comes in the form of $21 million to settle sexual abuse claims and another $2.3 million to help victims with counseling.
130 Claims of Church Sexual Abuse
The settlement by the diocese fails to mention three important facts:
- The time period of the 130 allegations
- The number of victims receiving the settlement
- The names of the perpetrators
The diocese said that they have cooperated with police for years. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin even signed a letter of understanding with former Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, however one woman who was sexually abused as a minor stated to police that Bishop Tobin treated her as a suspect and not a victim.
Extended Statute of Limitations
The payouts were reported in written testimony filed by the Rhode Island Catholic Conference with the House Judiciary Committee. The testimony was written before a legislative hearing that would give victims more an extended amount of time to file civil lawsuits against clergy members who sexually abused children and the institutions that employed them. The amount of time it takes to file a lawsuit was extended from 7 to 35 years.
The legislative hearing was a major rewrite that consisted of a 15-page filing and was submitted around the same time graphic reports of church sexual abuse by clergy members surfaced. Details of incidents were reportedly provided to Rhode Island State Police since 2011 by the Diocese of Providence.
There were several letters detailing the incidents with graphic details. One letter claims that a pastor bought expensive gifts for teenage boys who he was sexually abusing. Another letter claims that a clergy member forced a 15-year-old boy to drink alcohol until he passed out and eventually woke up stripped down to his boxers.
The Church Argues Over Legislation
The Rhode Island Catholic Conference has raised serious concerns over this new legislation. The group argues that the legislation will make no distinction between the perpetrators who actually committed the crime and the innocent who are alleged to have committed the crime. The group also argues that this extended statute of limitations is not targeting the abusers, but is instead allowing more opportunities for monetary lawsuits to be filed against limited third parties who are non-perpetrators.
Contact A Church Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today
Despite the Church’s arguments over the bill, this legislation is needed to punish abusers and help victims find some resolution to their suffering. Victims of sexual abuse can find trustworthy lawyers who are committed to fighting for justice that is needed. Call KBA Attorneys for a free case evaluation and learn how you can be compensated for your pain and suffering.
- Gregg, Katherine. “Testimony: Providence diocese has paid more than $21 million to settle clergy-abuse claims“, Providence Journal, https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190226/testimony-providence-diocese-has-paid-more-than-21-million-to-settle-clergy-abuse-claims. Accessed March 19, 2019.