Survivor Factors His Age, Opts For Victims Compensation Fund

First-person account written by Jim Tucker:

When the Archdiocese announced its’ compensation program last fall, I was extremely skeptical. My first reaction was the church was trying to circumvent efforts to change Statute of Limitation reform in the Pennsylvania Legislature. If the Church could get victim/survivors to accept lesser settlement amounts, the Church would save millions of dollars.

On the other hand, I saw this as the first time the Church has taken any action to help victims of clergy sexual abuse. I was so tired of hearing apologies, begging for forgiveness and other hollow words from those in the Hierarchy. While I can question their motives, this was at least some action. 

So I decided to apply for the compensation program, also known as the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program {IRRP]. The first step for me was to contact the Victims Assistance office at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I had never reported the abuse to the Archdiocese directly. I had written several letters but had never sent them. I had been warned by other survivors back in the late 90s, not to do so. 

I called the Victims Assistance office and was impressed with the way I was treated. They treated me with compassion, kindness and concern. They offered counseling services. After telling one of the people in the office my story, they promised to request an application form be sent to me. I received the application from the Feinstein Law group late last year.

The application was divided into several parts: One part was telling my story of abuse from 58 years ago when I was a 12- year-old altar boy. The next part was telling the effects the abuse had on me throughout my life. These two parts were not very difficult. I have been telling my story for close to 30 years. 

The next part was very difficult: documentation. How does one document abuse from that long ago. The priest who abused me died some 30 years ago. Most of the therapy I had was also 30 years ago. Therapists only keep records for seven years. The Church may have had records on this priest but they would only release documents if a court forced them to with a lawsuit. 

I had some documentation. I did an interview with a reporter with the Philadelphia Daily News back in 2002. I had a copy of the article that was printed. My sister, Carole, had letters I had sent her when I stopped drinking and when the article on the abuse when it was published in the Daily news. I also was able to get in touch with my therapist who helped me with getting sober. He wrote a letter on my behalf. Overall not much in the way of documentation.                                     

At this point i decided to contact a lawyer who dealt with sexual abuse. I was very disappointed. After telling my story to a legal aide, I received an email several days later. The lawyer decided not to represent me. He gave me no reasons. I felt disrespected. He didn’t even call me, only an email. 

At this point, I thought about giving up. But I decided to go through with the process on my own. The next step was to write a letter to the Montgomery County District Attorney, Kevin Steele detailing the abuse, giving the approximate date, where the abuse took place, who abused me and if there were witnesses. There was another boy present but I could not remember his name. I also needed to send a copy of this letter to the Feinsten Law Firm in Washington D.C.

So I sent the application to the Feinstein Law firm. I was not very optimistic.It was hard for me to believe that enough documentation was provided. On April 10th of this year, I did an interview on the phone with Camille Biros who, along with Kenneth Feinberg, administers the compensation program for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. After all that i had been through, I kind of lost it with Camille. I was very emotional. 

On April 30th, I received an offer from the Feinberg Law Firm. They offered me $100,000. I had to agree not to sue the Catholic church in the future, even if the Statute of limitations changes in the future, even if a window was opened for those of us who were abused decades ago. I didn’t expect any where near this amount. I didn’t hesitate in accepting this offer. I am 70 years old. With the Statute of Limitations laws still in limbo, I could not turn down this offer. 

I am still somewhat conflicted. In some ways I feel like I betrayed other victims by not holding out for changes in the law. I would not begin to tell other victims what to do. I would also suggest getting legal representation. If anyone is interested in how compensation programs work, I would recommend an article that appeared in the April edition of The New Yorker, written by Paul Elie. The article is titled: “What Do the Church’s Victims deserve.” Thanks to Michael Baumann for sharing this article on his blog. It was very helpful. 

Editors Note: 

The deadline for the Archdiocesan Victims Compensation Program for those who had not previously reported their abuse was on July 31, 2019. However, all those who previously reported their abuse have until Sept. 30, 2019 to apply. Other dioceses across Pennsylvania and in other states are also offering programs with differing deadlines and rules.

The window for New York’s Child Victim’s Act opened this month. Despite 320 victims participating in the compensation program offered by the Archdiocese of New York City, as many as 2,500 victims of clergy child sex abuse are forecasted to pursue lawsuits. The potential liability is estimated to be over 10 million dollars.

Related Posts:

No Law or Order With Victim Compensation Fund

Bishops’ Victim Compensation Plan Ignores Greater Good

10 thoughts on “Survivor Factors His Age, Opts For Victims Compensation Fund

  1. Good for Jim. He fails to point out the major flaw, in my opinion. When I was interviewed for 3 hours by the DA;s office in 2004 and testified before the grand jury, there was so much abuse and so few resources from their office that they concentrated on Archdiocesan priests. They admitted they had no idea of the scope of the abuse. This PROGRAM Jim does not include all the abuse by the religious and lay EMPLOYEES of the Philly archdiocese that are not covered. I was sexually abused by a delasalle christian brother in 1965 at West Catholic Boys, Brother Damien Bernard ( Joseph Santore).I did not wait years, but reported it that years and have documentation. Nothing was ever done.The archdiocese has always claimed these people were not their employees Such utter hypocrisy!!!! Sorry for going on..

    1. omg i suppose only a victim would be reading this far into the topic and ive been at it all night . its 6:46 am in california ..I just wanted to state that I am sickened by the offer and being informed by what the program has offered am determined to plead for enough so that i can take advantage of this offer that you described as the first offer ever ……And the mention of lawyers …why would anyone want a lawyer who takes 1/3 and isnt gonna raise the offer past the 500k level anyway. I mean if this is an independent mediation who were given “no cap ” and complete control why arent they breaking the church for their indiscretions. We arent less damaged than oil spill victims.. We have lived long and none of us are needijg to feel guilty for accepting an offer that is low AND keeps the facts legally sealed forever.. Man i can go on and it just gets me pumled up and then the amount I can accept starts at millions ..Thats plural.. I guess I will have lots of documentation ..i didnt lose all of my mind to the abuse. Just my confidence and will . I am telling everyone ..you gotta be dogged (Kens own words and dont ask ‘ken who) we cant bankrupt or bring shame to the church.. They are very strong and very capable. I do want to go thru this program I hope to talk sense and am inspired by your posts.. This is california and to the administrators ….please tell me the reports are lies. We dont have a lot of choices we are up for air thank god. We are still alive . dont take advantage of us with their money..siince thats what it comes down to then let me make the offer and tell you why..its called negotiations .. Let us control and make you the offer..otherwise im raising the dead ..

  2. Jim, if I am remembering correctly, you are one of the original C4C contributors, as I am. Many of us have followed your heart wrenching journey for years. Thank you for all the times you told your story and offered important insights. Thank you for staying strong while you navigated your path toward justice. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for improving the lives of all survivors. Peace and continued strength to you. Kate

  3. I meet with my attorney next week to start the paperwork for the IRRP process. Not the ideal solution but I believe he is representing several of my abuser’s (the former Rev. John P. Paul) victims. One thing that I hope to clarity on is my growing belief that I was drugged during one of the incidents. There are huge gaps in my recollections – a period which encompassed a 5+ hour time frame. A car ride from South Jersey all the up to Doylestown … was there dinner involved … the car ride home from Doylestown (at dusk) to my home outside of Jenkintown (where I arrived in the dark of night). For someone who likes being in control – this is one of the hardest things for me to accept. I have asked other JPP victims if they had similar instances and, while others have not, they are aware of sketchy behavior.

  4. Thanks Jim, as you speak for all of us. You also appear to speak from your own authority within you. Your own authority is unique, as though your own value is without reference to anyone now. Your own authority, especially against authority figures, makes you appear being mature and your own person. This is to say, you help to create genuine security for all of us.

  5. I am so very grateful to all of you. I have deep admiration for your courage and strength. I am not a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, however our church has betrayed us all through this abhorrent behavior on the clergy level up to and especially including the hierarchy. You are all loved and prayed for on a daily basis. Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for telling your stories. Many of us are so deeply sorry about this and we want you to see justice. Justice is the way that will help us to heal.

  6. Jim, please do not feel guilty for the decision you have made. You now have the funds to put happy memories in your life that you may not have been able to do earlier. I congratulate you and wish you well.

    For me I am stuck in the Philadelphia Archdiocese loophole. My abuse occurred at a Philadelphia
    Archdiocese high school and a Philadelphia Archdiocese rectory but because my abuser was a
    Oblates of St. Francis priest who taught and coached at this high school the archdiocese does not feel
    they are responsible even though he taught and resided at a Philadelphia Archdiocese school.

    I have an attorney and will keep fighting to the last breath I take,and I ask everyone who maybe in the
    same predicament as me who was abused by a Oblates of St. Francis priest and who the Archdiocese
    of Philadelphia has turned their back on to continue to fight.

    1. Dennis: Good luck to you and Daniel in your quest for justice. I believe that excluding those who were abused by those who taught in High Schools regardless if they were order priests or diocesan priests is totally unfair. But fairness has never been a quality the Church has ever exhibited towards victims of clergy abuse. Financially, I had to take the settlement. If I was financially well off, I would have held out. But my wife of forty three years is disabled and pretty much confined to a wheelchair. As I am sure you know the costs involved with the care of someone disabled are quite steep. I had to retire earlier than I had planned, to in order to care for her. The money helped to pay off debts that had been accrued. Plus I was able to buy some medical equipment to make her life a little easier. Plus I was able to put some money aside for future emergencies. My one sister asked me if there was some closure after receiving the settlement. As you and I both know there will never be closure. The effects will be with us til the day we die. But for me there was some validation. Camille Biros was quoted saying in the New Yorker piece that no settlement would be offered if all they had was the word of a victim against that of a priest. That leads me to believe that other victims of the same priest have come forward. I knew there were others but I did not know if they had made the abuse known to the Church. It was good hearing from you again, Dennis. I often thought of you and what Had become of you. Good luck and keep up the fight

  7. I have commented before. Do not want to drag it out. Good wishes to Jim. I am his same age. But from day one these Philly websites never consider victims abused by religious orders of priests and religious. ( Christian brothers)

  8. Thank You Jim! For your courage and your lifelong friendship. Somehow, since the 1990’s you managed to keep me within the truth of this horrendous ordeal within the church and within society. Catholic Moral Theology calls for Restorative Justice. Feminist hermeneutics warns us of a patriarchal system that has legitimated many forms of oppression. This worldwide societal crisis of child abuse is oppression, a form of child slavery. Restoration and healing always begins with the revelation of the truth, in ways that allow victims to challenge, even confront their abusers. Survivors still living and the family members of those now deceased must be offered the truth about what happened to their children. They need to understand why their daughters and sons, why our brothers and sisters turned to fatal addictions and suicide. The secrets in the diocesan archives need to be shared with families and victims so healing can really happen.
    So even though there is some restorative justice because you had to balance that financial scale for your present situation, we both know that we must continue to speak up for survivors within the PA laws. Dennis, Syd , Mike Mc, Daniel, Owlfan, Mick, the Fourtney sisters and that beloved Sister who died a year ago, can know that their fight is not in vein. Many of the writers on c4c have shared the most painful stories. I who worked in a parish life for 20 years knew before the Boston Globe news broke, to protect children under my watch. I grieve deeply for all and being a sibling feel deep sorrow that this has happened. Thanks to all for supporting my wonderful brother who has had way too much pain for anyone to endure. This is not goodbye
    Thanks Cathie and Susan for providing the platform for dialogue..
    Carole- Jim’s sIster

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