New Law Gives Delaware Victims Closure

The story linked below illustrates how Pennsylvania could and should give victims the opportunity for justice. A two-year window would out perpetrators and those who harbor them. Some argue that money can’t undo the past. It doesn’t, but our justice system acknowledges that victims need more than abstract apologies and relies on compensation. That financial liability can create accountability for organizations charged with the care of children. Please let your state rep (see Resources page for contact info) that you want HB 832 and HB 878 to become PA law.

“Abuse victims receive closure,” by Beth Miller, The News Journal, July 29, 2011, Delaware Online


“Our civil justice system handles compensating people for wrongdoing through the use of money,” he said. “Sometimes that’s a cold way to do things. I’m happy that this plan includes not just monetary provisions but nonmonetary provisions that I hope will be helpful to healing the wrongs of the victims and also healing the relationship the diocese has with the community at large and, more specifically, the Catholic community.”

15 thoughts on “New Law Gives Delaware Victims Closure

  1. I am one of the victims part of this lawsuit. It’s funny, but I was just telling a friend today, “I don’t feel any different now than I did 24 hours ago, before the settlement was approved.” I don’t know if I had any predetermined ideas that anything would likely change, at least within myself, prior to Judge Sontchi signing off on the settlement with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. In fact, I feel even more resolute in my mind that this has never been about money. At the end of the day, we might have a couple extra bucks in our bank accounts, which will undoubtedly make things easier from a “debt aspect,” but I’m still a victim. The memories haven’t been erased by the thought of a little more green paper in my pocket. And no matter what I do from here on out, and wherever I go, I still have to take me with me.

    I have much appreciation for Judge Christopher Sontchi and his handling of the Diocese wanting to pay victims settlement money, but still continue to pay abusive priests. Judge Sontchi proved to me, that at least one man within the legal system, still exemplifies my standards of integrity and justice.

    Just keep in mind, this isn’t “closure.” I don’t even know what would be closure. Maybe I can take some time to figure that all out, but what I do know is that I am alive, and too many childhood sexual abuse victims are not. They died without “closure.” I will remember them. And, I will use every dollar of this money to help every victim I can and to make sure that no other child goes through what we have. This isn’t over by a long shot. We still have a responsibility to protect children and vulnerable adults, inside and outside of the walls of the Catholic Church.

    1. Can I repost this as a blog entry? I think you captured this for so many survivors. Also, many argue that money doesn’t undo anything so why bother lifting the civil statute. What are your thoughts on that?

      1. You may repost this. As for your question, I don’t think moeny is justice, unless you’re an unfortunate victim of Law Street. I’d much prefer to see the “Criminal” Statute of Limitations abolished, but should victims be able to sue as well? Yes, I think so. Victims in car accidents are able to sue insurance companies, why not victims of non-accidents, who will suffer forever? So, I suppose, I support both, but I’d rather see an abolishment of the Criminal SOL across the board – a federal law. All of these priests should be in prison! Instead, the Church bailed them out and even still wanted to pay the bastards.

      2. You know… one last thing; If the Church can feel just a little bit of what I have felt in my life, whether that pain comes in the form of them losing some money or an abusive priest and his cohorts spending time in prison, that will be my justice!

      3. I had an odd, uneasy feeling, reading the report. I don’t see how money can really help the victims. Does it punish the wrongdoers? Possibly; but also the parishioners who give the money on Sundays. It seems to punish the institution but not the abusers.This is just an observation on the article— I am not here to settle that kind of question but to publish the Word of reconciliation offered by Christ to all.

      4. Gerald,
        To me, the institution IS the abuser. Those how actually perpetrated are just the followers.

        I have more to say about this.

        There is purpose is bringing suit against the church. It’s not how any victim would have WANTED from their church…but, it’s the ONLY way the church will listen.

  2. I don’t think that money solves this problem however some victims have found themselves in difficult financial situations due to the continuing affect the abuse has had on their life. I would imagine that most want to see these laws passed because they have never been given the opportunity to criminally prosecute their perpetrators. At least suing in civil court exposes and makes public the name of their perpetrator and that helps keep children safe. In Delaware part of the settlement is that the diocese has to release previously undisclosed documents. Since criminal statutes cannot be retroactive,civil claims are the only recourse.
    And for this victims are called “gold diggers” when money will never heal their wounds,however money does make the Church aware that they can no longer get off with no consequences..

    1. Kathy, Once again you nail it. I am on emotional disability where it is impossible for me to work in an office or any building where I am enclosed. I am a crossing guard which is a few hours a day, 5 days a week and it is outside. I struggle every month I struggle to meet my expenses. I lost so much of my life on so many levels due to the sexual priest abuse that went on for 25 years. My first great desire is to protect children however a little money wsould give me some semblance of peace.

      1. I hope that the laws are changed so you get that peace…… seem like such a goodhearted person.

  3. It was never about the money for my husband. He was promised his counseling bills would be paid. They paid for a while and just when he was wrapping up with his final counseling costs, the diocese quit paying. The whole situation became bigger than all of us at that point.

    Closure will be different for every victim. For my husband it was making the diocese do the very thing they didn’t want to do…pay for his counseling. No lawyers, no judges…just my husband documenting everything, getting all levels of hierarchy involved and then just at the right time, exposing them all. The diocese bullied us relentlessly…my husband didn’t blink. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you made these jerks dance. Does that lack compassion? Perhaps…but I saw my husband get justice and closure in one fell swoop when the diocese mailed a check on the last day before my husband was going to file a breach of contract suit against our own church. He slept like a baby that night and hasn’t looked back since.

    I think part of it is about the money. The church has taught the victims that there are only 2 ways to get their attenion…$ and exposing them through the media.

    Give the victims some measure of comfort and if the only way the church will offer it is in the form of lawsuits, then so be it.

  4. I like that reply, Survivor’s Wife. I hope maybe someday I can sleep at night too.

    Kathy? You’re right about the financial situation many of us have been in. Try working an 8-hour job, 5 days per week, when you can’t even imagine getting out of bed in the morning. Try explaining to your co-workers why you just freaked out in the middle of work with a panic attack. Try feeling so alone and alienated from the world you don’t even feel like you’re alive.

    My abuser is dead. He will never hurt another child. The part of the lawsuit that I didn’t mention before was the non-monetary issue, which is really great and is definitely something that will protect kids today and tomorrow. Over the last 24 hours, I’ve been reading comments to articles online of idiots who claimed “we victims have done this for the money.” I wanted to stress to everyone here that that couldn’t be further from the truth, or from my truth anyway.

  5. P.S. I think it was reading the report’s “reader comments” that was the thing that was odd. There sure is a bunch of strange people out there …

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