Offices of the Diocese of San Diego. Courtesy of the diocese

A multi-million dollar program established two years ago to negotiate payments to clergy sex abuse victims in six Catholic dioceses, including San Diego, is about to conclude its work.

Officials with the Independent Compensation Program for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Diocesan Priests in California announced Thursday that it has finished processing its final claim. The total amount paid out will be $23.97 million.

“I am pleased the ICP was committed to a process that treated all victim/survivors, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, with dignity and compassion,” former U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a statement.

Contreras-Sweet served on the program’s oversight committee.

“It was particularly important that the ICP process offered victim/survivors some sense of justice and validation for the inexcusable trauma they endured,” she said.

When the program was created in 2019, organizers said it was open to all clergy sex abuse victims, including people living in the country illegally and those who were barred from filing lawsuits because the abuse occurred long ago, beyond the statute of limitations.

Organizers also said the compensation program would allow victims to maintain their privacy, something that might not be possible in a lawsuit.

The program was billed as a “non-adversarial” process of providing financial support to victims.

Some critics, however, contended the program fell short because it took cases out of the public eye, allowing a diocese to resolve a matter financially without being held accountable for potential wrongdoing in its handling of predatory priests.

Diocese officials said the church had no control over the program, which was independently administered by mediators Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, who ran similar programs in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado.

Other dioceses taking part in the program are Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Fresno and Sacramento.

The organizations collectively cover more than 10 million Catholics, or roughly 80% of the state’s Catholics.

– City News Service

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