To register, or not to register? That is the question.
For those of you just catching up, the IRCPs, or the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs, are programs for certain survivors of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn.
If victims qualify, they may get financial compensation. But the victim will have to sign away later civil rights if they become available. The victim will also not have access to the priest perpetrator’s secret personnel file or learn about the cover-up of abuse. The plan is run by an independent administrator.
However, the victim CAN publicize the name of the perpetrator. And the compensation is nothing to sniff at. Numbers are in the six figures and can go a long way to help many people rebuild lives.
It’s a big trade off.
Should you register online?
No. If you think the plan is an option for you, you should shop around a find the right lawyer first and have that lawyer complete the process for you.
There are a number of reasons:
- Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop DiMarzio have had teams of lawyers for decades whose sole intention has been to ensure that survivors don’t get justice. Are you going to go into that fight alone?
- Kenneth Feinberg and his team are only working with the information that Dolan and DiMarzio selectively choose to disclose. Don’t you think it’s wise to go in with someone with experience working with clergy sex abuse cases in New York and who can push back in case your claim is denied?
- The process is not easy, nor is it victim-friendly.
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At the end of the IRCP process, a lawyer will be chosen for you to help you go through the final agreement. Will that attorney have your interests at heart? Who knows …
For those who balk at fees: Yes, lawyers usually charge somewhere between 30% and 40% of your final settlement. But if you go in alone and are denied, that’s it. You’re toast, unless you have something else you can show to “prove” your case. A lawyer has a ton more resources, years of institutional knowledge, data, researchers, a team of experts at his/her disposal, past and current legal cases, other attorneys, and legal knowledge … much more than a single survivor.
On a whole, victims who have legal representation tend to get larger awards than those who do not.
Finding a good attorney is not rocket science. Ask around for referrals. Find experts who have handled these cases in New York. Then start making calls.
Choosing a lawyer is like dating. You need someone who “gets” you, returns your phone calls, and hasn’t been a jerk to your friends. It’s okay to interview a few and if you just don’t like someone, say to yourself: “Meh. He’s a mouth breather. Next!”
All joking aside: This is the lawyer who may help put your perpetrator behind bars. This is not a decision to take lightly.
The IRCP may not be for you
The IRCP is not for everyone. It’s enabler and predator friendly. Or, you may not qualify—most survivors in both dioceses do not.
But if you do use the plan, PLEASE publicize your perpetrator.
My prediction: The Diocese of Rockville Center will be the next to announce a plan.
If you were a part of the IRCP in New York, received a settlement, and were NOT represented by an attorney, give me a shout: email@example.com. I am trying to put together a list of all of the perpetrators who have been named in the program. Your privacy will be protected.