Frequently Asked Questions
Catholic Diocese of Richmond
Independent Reconciliation Program

Introduction
The following information contains answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) following the announcement of an Independent Reconciliation Program by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, February 17, 2020. The questions are intended to answer concerns and provide additional information. Please click on the question to expand and collapse the answer.

For additional information about the Program, please visit www.richmonddioceseirp.com

The FAQ will be updated as needed. Download Print Friendly Version
 

Bishop Knestout is committed to helping victim survivors on their path of healing, from meeting with victim survivors to publishing the names of clergy against whom there is a credible and substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Bishop Knestout recognizes that needs exist among victim survivors that current outreach practices may not address.  This Program allows the diocese to offer another means of support for victim survivors.  Bishop Knestout sees this Program as a natural extension of his promise to assist victim survivors.

As part of the commitment to offer assistance that facilitates healing for those who, as minors, experienced sexual abuse by its clergy, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has established a voluntary Independent Reconciliation Program, which provides an opportunity for eligible victim survivors to receive a monetary payment.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s goal is to help as many victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse as possible. Anyone who has experienced sexual abuse as a minor by clergy serving the diocese is encouraged to apply.

For additional information on eligibility criteria, please visit the Program’s website: www.RichmondDioceseIRP.com

While the Program was designed specifically for individuals who, as a minor, were sexually abused by clergy serving in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the diocese is committed to providing support for all individuals who experienced child sexual abuse within the context of the Church. Victim survivors are encouraged to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) to discuss other healing opportunities and programs available.

You can contact the VAC by email at vac@richmonddiocese.org or by phone via the confidential Victim Assistance Reporting Line at 1-877-887-9603.

The Program has been designed and will be administered by Lynn Crowder Greer and her firm, BrownGreer PLC (“Claims Administrator”), an independent and nationally recognized firm specializing in claims administration.  Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, BrownGreer has been involved in very significant resolution programs to include   some of the largest and most complex claims resolution programs in history, such as the BP Oil Spill Program, the NFL Concussion Settlement Program, and the One October Settlement Fund for victims of the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. BrownGreer has earned a nationwide reputation as an objective, fair and neutral Claims Administrator.

Submitting a claim is a two-step process. For specific details about submitting a claim and other questions on the process, please visit the Program’s website: www.RichmondDioceseIRP.com 

Please note that the first step requires initiation of a claim on or before Monday, April 3, 2020.

In keeping with the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s commitment to protect the privacy of victim survivors, the Claims Administrator will keep confidential information it receives from individuals participating in the Program, except as necessary to process the claim, reporting to the diocese so it may follow its Church processes, and complying with state or federal law, including any requirements of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.
The diocese will not require individuals to sign a confidentiality agreement. All individuals participating in the Program, even those who accept a monetary payment and sign a release, will forever retain the right to discuss their claim and their abuse.

Yes. The diocese’s intention is to help as many victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse as possible and encourage them to contact the Claim Administrator for inclusion in the Program. Individuals who, as part of their claim, submit a new allegation or provide new information about their allegation may be contacted by the VAC as part of the Church processes. The outcome of the Church process will have no bearing on the decisions made by the Claims Administrator.  Church processes are independent of the Program.

If a victim survivor decides to accept a monetary payment from the Program, they will be required to sign a release.  Thereafter, the victim survivor will give up the right to sue or receive any financial assistance from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and the Claims Administrator. If the victim survivor was abused by clergy from another diocese or religious order, the diocese may request the other diocese or religious order to contribute to the monetary payment. In those cases, the individual may also give up the right to sue or receive financial assistance from the other diocese or religious order and its affiliates. The Claims Administrator will not participate in any contribution discussions and any such discussions will not affect its determination on the monetary amount offered to the victim survivor. A request for contribution will not conflict with the Program’s deadlines.

Participation in the Program is voluntary.  Victim survivors choosing not to participate in the Program can  contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator for other assistance by email at vac@richmonddiocese.org, or by phone via the confidential Victim Assistance Reporting Line at 1-877-887-9603.

No. The Claims Administrator will decide the monetary amount of each claim independently and without input from any representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, including the bishop of Richmond.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond provides financial support for counseling and other therapeutic interventions for individuals who have experienced child sexual abuse by clergy or other representatives of the diocese. In some instances, the diocese has provided financial support to individuals in areas other than counseling or therapeutic support.

The Victim Assistance Coordinator strives to compassionately and respectfully work with victim survivors through the disclosure process and act as a supportive presence and advocate throughout various Church and civil processes.

Bishop Knestout, working with his advisors including the Diocesan Finance Council, has identified several potential sources of funds for the Program, including the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s self-insurance program, investments, and loans as needed.  The diocese will not use funds donated to the Annual Diocesan Appeal or the Living Our Mission campaign.  Nor will it use parish assets, school assets, or any donor restricted contributions or restricted endowments, including those in the Catholic Community Foundation and the McMahon-Parater Scholarship Foundation.  The diocese will seek contributions from insurance companies, religious orders and other dioceses when appropriate.

Because it is not known how many claims will be filed, a specific amount of money has not been reserved.  As indicated in the answer above, potential sources of funding have been identified.

Because the cost of the Program is not known at this time, it is not possible to accurately estimate the financial impact to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond as a whole.  The Program will require significant resources, and the diocese anticipates that operating budget adjustments will need to be made in the future as a result. The diocese is committed to financial transparency and a report on the results of the Program will be made at the conclusion of the Program.

The Program should not affect parish assets, school assets, including tuition, or other programs.

During the Program, eligible victim survivors will be asked if he/she would like to meet with the Claims Administrator and if he/she would like to have a diocesan representative present at that meeting. If he/she accepts the invitation, arrangements will be made.  Victim survivors are encouraged to accept this invitation to share their experiences in a face-to-face setting.

The Program is independent of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Individuals with questions or seeking assistance may contact the Claims Administrator’s call center Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. EST. Accessibility accommodations will be available for those who require them.


The Diocese of Richmond encourages individuals who have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the Diocese to report abuse directly to law enforcement, including Child Protective Services (CPS) at 1-800-552-7096, and by calling the Attorney General's Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064.

Individuals are then encouraged to contact the Diocese of Richmond Victim Assistance Coordinator via email at vac@richmonddiocese.org or by phone via the confidential Victim Assistance Reporting Line at 1-877-887-9603.
 
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