Kenneth Feinberg has begun receiving claims from victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse in Colorado, under a voluntary compensation program created by the dioceses of Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
Feinberg, who also managed compensation payouts to victims of 9/11, the Aurora Theater shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing, told CPR that money is only part of what makes people whole in the wake of their trauma.
“What they want as much as money, if not more, is validation, acknowledgement that the wrong occurred and that they were damaged and that they're ... telling the truth about what was done to them as children,” he said. “And that very often takes precedence over cutting a check and presenting it to a victim.”
The Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program will have two categories of claimants: those who raised complaints at the time of the abuse and those who have only recently or have yet to make a claim.
The deadline for making claims is Jan. 31, 2020.
Claimants may still choose to sue the church if they are dissatisfied with the offer of payment. Feinberg and co-administrator Camille Biros have the sole discretion, without the church’s input, over the payment amounts. There is no cap to what the church may have to compensate a given victim.
Attorney General Phil Weiser has said that there are statutory restraints on investigations that his office may perform into the church, which led his predecessor, Cynthia Coffman, to negotiate with church about a review of past abuse rather than initiate criminal proceedings as other states have done.
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that Feinberg spoke incorrectly, and that family members of abuse victims who committed suicide will not be eligible for claims.