Compensation Fund Claims by Victims of Catholic Sex Abuse
In February of 2019, all three Catholic dioceses in Colorado, together with the Attorney General, announced a wide-ranging investigation into claims of sex abuse by priests and clergy. In addition to the investigation, the dioceses of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, agreed to participate in a program to financially compensate victims of sex abuse by members of the Catholic church. While details about how the Colorado’s victim compensation fund works will likely be released in the fall of 2019, Colorado Catholic sex abuse attorneys expect that the program will be similar to those in other states like New York and Pennsylvania. If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a member of Colorado’s Catholic community, having a fierce advocate by your side as you navigate the victim compensation process can be extremely helpful. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we want to be your advocate, and we invite you to call our Catholic sex abuse attorneys today at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation about your case.Towards Justice – What Does the Sex Abuse Victim Compensation Fund Look Like?
While we firmly believe that justice is truly only achieved in an open forum, such as a courtroom, where the truth can be told and heard, the initiative by Catholic dioceses to pay victims of church sex abuse is a step in the right direction. At this point, we understand that the compensation fund will be financed by the Colorado dioceses themselves as well as by independent sources. This means that any money payouts made to victims of sexual abuse will be from the dioceses directly as well as from independent sources such as donors.
As far as the process is concerned, unlike a forum where evidence is presented to a jury, victims who want to participate in the compensation program will have a limited time to tell their stories at a hearing. The hearing will be attended by pre-selected mediators chosen by the dioceses. Based on the information and stories presented, the mediators will decide on how much money to award a victim. This process will be overseen by former Colorado senator Hank Brown, as well as well-known mediators Camille Biros and Ken Feinberg, who will serve as the co-administrators of Colorado’s fund. Any attorney representing a victim of sexual abuse will be compensated according to an independent fee agreement between the victim and his or her lawyer, which is typically contingency based. This means that the lawyer will be paid as a percentage of the gross recovery made by the victim.How Much Will I Get Compensated for the Trauma I Have Been Through?
At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we understand that there is no way to fully compensate you for the harms that have been caused by sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic church. The damage is deep, life-altering, and profound. Unfortunately, the Catholic diocese victim compensation fund in Colorado will not be able to fully pay for the damage caused by its priests and clergy. However, the program is designed as a compromise for those who voluntarily wish to participate in it.
While most settlements have been confidential, it has been reported that dioceses in other states have paid up to $500,000 in some instances of especially egregious abuse. With that said, each case is unique, and even cases that may seem benign to a casual observer (like verbal sexual abuse or touching in a sexually suggestive way) can have significant value. The critical component is the victim himself or herself and the power of the story that is told to the compensation fund administrators.Are There Risks to Participating in the Catholic Diocese’s Victim Compensation Program?
The danger to participating in the program is that if the statute of limitations is ever extended to allow civil lawsuits against the Catholic church in Colorado, victims who took part in the compensation program will likely be barred from filing suit. Having a sexual abuse survivor give anything more up is undoubtedly an injustice. Nonetheless, in exchange for the church taking some semblance of responsibility for the role it played in allowing you to be abused, it will pay a relatively modest sum toward your harms and losses. In many ways this can be viewed as a “bird in hand is better than two in the bush” type of scenario, as it is uncertain that Colorado’s statute of limitations for church sex abuse survivors will ever be changed.How Can Cook, Bradford & Levy Help You?
What makes us uniquely well positioned to advocate for you to the victim compensation fund is that at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we are trial attorneys who specialize in telling our clients stories in a compelling way to juries, judges, and insurance adjusters. We will listen to you and your family, as well as any other evidence you may have, and then work with you in depth to practice your presentation to the decision-makers on the victim compensation fund. While our attorneys use a number of techniques designed to effectively help you “find your story” and effectively express it, we have found that the skills we developed while training at the Trial Lawyers College (TLC) are highly impactful and can be life-changing for our clients. Indeed, we have worked closely with some of the most well-respected Catholic church sex abuse lawyers in the country.Call Us Today
Unlike many of the attorneys who advertise that they represent victims of Catholic church sex abuse, at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we are local, Colorado-based attorneys who are actually here for you. We have represented clients across our state, and regardless of where you live, we can potentially represent you in a claim with the Catholic diocese victim compensation fund or sex abuse survivor’s fund. Indeed, our lawyers know that many victims of sexual abuse get pushed into the margins of society and suffer in silence both in Colorado’s metropolitan areas as well as in our rural small towns. Wherever you are, you have a voice. We invite you to call us today at 303-543-1000 to let us know how we might be able to help you.