I think it’s important for all to read this C4C comment exchange regarding monetary compensation for victims of clergy sex abuse.
I am one of the victims part of this lawsuit (Delaware – see related post). 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.
by Survivor’s Wife
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 attention…$ 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.
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.
7 thoughts on “Victim on Legal ‘Victory’”
Delaware got it right! The entire creditors committee did a great job! Judge Sontchi is heroic in that he didn’t allow the diocese to pay abusive priests. Every victim who came forward and broke their silence are heroes, and they are protecting present and future children from abuse. Delaware was the first of the United States. Now Delaware can also be known as the first state to protect children and penalize those evil people who want to corrupt and murder the soul of a child.
This has never been about religion, nor has it been about money. This has been about bad people doing bad things, and if justice comes in the form of a lump sum of money, it will never be enough to fill the void left in childhood lost. No amount of money can replace what was taken from us. As a victim of clergy sexual abuse, as a citizen of the United States of America, and as a human being I will continue to stand with those who seek a reckoning, and I will forever fight to protect all children and vulnerable adults from ever experiencing the hell that is sexual abuse.
To my fellow Delaware Survivors,
Avoid the negative people. They don’t matter much. At the end of the day we all know that what we did was undeniably necessary to protect present and future children from abuse.
Whatever it takes to get acknowledgment that a crime was comitted against children and vulnerable adults is what is important.
It is the RCC that made sure it was an issue of money. Were they willing to issue public apologies, were they willing to publish lists of offending clergy? Were they willing to set up programs for the treatment of victims?
It is the victims–THROUGH THEIR LAWYERS, BECAUSE THEY COULD DO NOTHING WITHOUT BRINGING LAWYERS INTO IT–who demanded openess.
Historically, the RCC made settlements but demanded that victims be silent on the terms of the settlements. That was just another slap in the face to victims; paying off and demanding silence was just another way of trying to make the victim feel guilty.
Thank God for the civil law. Thank God for the courage of the victims. Their coming forward will help us all.
Let me first say that I don’t think everyone should be suing the church. The ideal situation would have been for the crimes to have never happened. The next would have been once the hierarchy learned of the abuses, they (the hierarchy) listened to the pain, accepted the justified anger victims felt (feel), and reached out to them in EVERY way possible to help them heal. This would have included following through on the road map every victim had for ways to protect children and hold all abusers accountable.
Clearly, that did not happen. Now we are dealing with the reality of judges, attorneys and lawsuits.
“It’s not about the money.” It’s difficult for some to understand that statement when that’s what makes headlines and that ultimately affects the church (hierarchy and laity). The victims were/are children who were so trusting and vulnerable as evidenced by their attendance in Catholic schools, altar service, retreats, etc. The trauma that victims experienced (whether they were aware of it all along or not) robbed them of so much. What happened when they came forward? We all know…they were dismissed, silenced, and lied to by the “moral” entity they trusted. What recourse does a victim have? Hope the criminals will do the right thing? The outrage my husband felt when he realized every person connected in the hierarchy was lying for the other was “beyond any betrayal I experienced in the confessional as a 10 year old boy.” Do you go to the faithful and tell them? Oops, they didn’t believe him either. In fact, they made it worse by defending the priests and bishops that were LYING to them.
Should victims sue the church? Who benefits from it? Who does it really hurt?
I always come back to a yes, given the climate and structure of the rcc.
What is a victim supposed to do to get this evil exposed? When will the church listen to the victims? How can we get the hierarchy to change the way they do business? We have the answers now and the hierarchy taught us well…in order for victims to be heard they NEEDED us to sue them. They NEEDED us to expose them publicly, because they weren’t willing to do it the right way…by being accountable, offering healing, and being repentant for their immoral, criminal behavior.
We now know that the RCC won’t do what is right unless they are shamed into it or forced by a court to comply. Getting documentation in the courts is vital because it EXPOSES the truth…and only then can true healing begin.
All sides have benefitted from victims suing the church…the victim, the hierarchy, the laity…but especially the children.
Who does it hurt? Define hurt. I don’t see church closings as hurtful. I don’t see bishops being exposed as hurtful.
There was no other way.
I’ve taken some negative comments through email and from people who know I comment on this website. I wouldn’t call it hate mail by any means, but I would call it “misunderstanding mail.” Money can’t buy happiness. We’ve all heard that phrase at some point in our lives and I believe it to be very accurate. However, I do believe that money can make life easier, from the perspective that if I had more of it, I might be able to pay off my debt and not have to worry about how I will pay my bills at the end of the month, and I can just work on healing myself from the psychological disposition resulting from being a victim of clergy sexual abuse. The money is definitely important.
Three years ago, I dumped over $250,000 of my life savings and a small business loan into starting my own venture. I had always worked hard and at 31 years-old, I was ready to prove to myself that I could run my own business and cut a path for myself and my partner. Unfortunately, right around the time I started my own business the blocks came tumbling down, because all these memories of the abuse came rumbling forward. I went from being a real go-getter to someone who couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Instead of concentrating on work, I sat in my office alone, staring out into space and thinking about everything I had gone through as a child. I’d start to sweat, but not from working hard for my business, but from working hard trying to get through the many panic attacks I was experiencing. During the worst of times, I dealt with 30-50 panic attacks per week. I couldn’t sleep, and as the nights become longer and longer, the days became less productive. I quickly went from moving toward the top to working my way out of a very deep hole. Nothing worked out and everything I did seemed to make matters worse.
I had always felt like I had something to contribute to the world. I had no ambitions to be rich and famous, nor did I care who got the credit for good deeds done. I just wanted a space of my own and the approval from within that I was important. I wanted to feel contentment within myself. That would be my success.
Being part of this lawsuit in Delaware, I have been privy to more information than anyone following the case online and in newspapers. Initially, I was one of the big supporters of forcing the Diocese of Wilmington to hand over documents regarding clergy who have had allegations of abuse lodged against them. I wanted to see documents regarding my own abuser and if he’d ever abused a child before or after he abused me. I found out quite awhile ago that indeed, he had abused other boys. After I went public with my story, 7 more victims of my abuser came forward and reported that they too had been abused by this creature. (I refuse to call these guys “men.”) In February of this year, I found out that there would be two parts of the settlement with the diocese; a monetary and non-monetary settlement. The non-monetary settlement would be full disclosure of all priests documented to have allegations of abuse against them. I was thrilled. It was almost exactly what I was hoping we would get. However, perfection would’ve resulted in offending priests going to prison. That would’ve been real justice. Unfortunately, the SOL had run out and the only justice any of us would receive would come in the form of money. Knowing that Big Business listens to consumers only when money is involved, I felt I had no other choice than to stand alongside 150 other victims who would sue the Diocese of Wilmington.
Justice comes in all forms I guess. Maybe I will feel a little bit differently about the monetary part of the settlement when a check is in my hand. Maybe I won’t. The only hope I have left is that institutions like the Catholic Church begin to realize, through losing some money, that the true identity of justice is protecting the most innocent members of it’s congregation, and alienating those who would prefer destruction of virtue.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
You know…even if you hadn’t had the misfortune(that’s not the right word, but I’m at a loss for the right one) of losing money on a business venture due to the bottom falling out of your life because of these creatures…you deserved some measure of comfort, financial and otherwise, from the institution that knowingly allowed it to happen.
The person who taught me that was a chancellor.
Thank you for coming forward…others won’t have to suffer in silence, because they kno they aren’t alone.
“This has never been about religion, nor has it been about money. This has been about bad people doing bad things, and if justice comes in the form of a lump sum of money,”
I don’t believe it is about the money either, and feel very bad that anyone would open that can of worms in the face of such evil done to children. It is an appalling accusation, or inference.
I disagree though that it is not about religion. It is very much about religion too, and the elevated ego’s of people who thing they govern the people in the name of God!
The only religion ever sanctioned by God was the Jewish religion, and no other. Christ did not come to make a new RELIGION…that is from Satan, who makes his religions to serve himself, falsely.
The risen Christ sent the Apostle Paul to take the gospel of the grace of God to the Gentiles, us. It is a simple gospel showing us that when we believe on what He did on the cross, taking the penalty for our sins past, present and future, we are saved eternally in Him.
He tells us that we no longer need priests and that old system to be reconcilled to God, nor to be forgiven our sins. It is by grace through faith alone, and anyone who adds their own works, has not believed the gospel. Here is the freedom we have when we know the truth:
Heb 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The false “high priests” of the Roman Catholic Church cannot give us what God has already given to us who believe. And we can surely see that these false priests are NOT Christ’s representatives, by any means.
Thank you to both Rich and Survivor’s Wife for sharing your thoughts and insights with us.