by Susan Matthews
Experience matters when it comes to leading an independent review of Church policies. Is that why the Archdiocese of Philadelphia chose George Mitchell? According to recent allegations, he has first-hand experience with sexual abuse.
Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking victim names Mitchell in newly-released court documents.
Stranger Than Fiction
Who better to oversee the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) for victims of clergy child sex abuse? The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Mitchell’s appointment in November of 2018. He is a former Maine senator and U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
The National Catholic Reporter quoted Mitchell at the time. “This is a good faith attempt to remedy a number of wrongs,” he said, and noted “the failure of the archdiocese to prevent these unspeakable crimes, the archdiocese has itself recognized there is a need for reconciliation and reparation after many years of suffering by these victims.”
Did Mitchell consider serving on the committee a personal penance?
Mitchell released a statement refuting the allegations. However, a former Epstein employee corroborates that Epstein and Mitchell were associated in a sworn affidavit.
The June 2019 IIRP report states the senator resigned as committee chairman “due to other business that requires his full attention.”
Archdiocese Pays Out $19 Million-Plus
The report also states that as of June, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia paid out over $19 million in reparations to 93 of the 167 victims who filed claims. All claimants are offered varying forms of counseling.
The current statute of limitations in Pennsylvania prevents many survivors of child sex abuse from suing for civil damages (whether at the hands of clergy or not). The Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops Conference actively lobbies against statute of limitations reforms.
Should the laws change, the Archdiocese has effectively mitigated its damages. Survivors who accept compensation sign away their right to file suit in the future.