Diocese fund releases compensation fund for victims of abuse

Local News

The Diocese is ready to compensate survivors for the pain they’ve endured with their victims’ compensation fund.

As the cases age and the law stands, many victims can’t get closure from a legal standpoint.  

This is Jim Vansickle facing his abuser Father David Poulson.

Earlier this year, the former priest was sentenced on charges in connection to child sexual abuse. But, due to the current statute of limitations laws in Pennslyvania, most victims aren’t able to get justice in court.

That’s the reasoning behind the Diocese of Erie launching the Independent Survivors Reparation Program, or, a victim’s compensation fund.

Vansickle told us via Facetime he supports the decision. “There has to be some sort of compensation for the people who have gone through the pain and suffering of a lifetime.” 

From now until August 15th, victims are able to file claims. The program coming on the heels of the release of the Pennslyvania Grand Jury Report into sexual abuse within the church.

Bishop Lawrence Persico, of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, says, “It was a very difficult thing to see and quite frankly disgusting, but in the long run, it has helped the survivors to come forward because they are no longer in the dark.” 

The launch of the fund raises questions of where the money comes from and who it will impact.

Persico says, “A lot of women and men in the pew are worried about their parishes or their schools. I can’t emphasize enough that this is the money that has been historically part of the diocese.” 

Persico says the line of credit comes from a separate pool of money based on investments of the diocese. But, Vansickle tells us moving forward his focus is still the statute of limitations.

“We’re gonna be relentless in the chase for that law to change.” 

Many victims still believe the creation of the fund is an attempt to keep victims quiet. However, the bishop says after the release of the report, they have nothing left to hide.

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