NEWARK, New Jersey — New Jersey’s highest-ranking cleric says the Catholic Church will release the names early next year of priests credibly accused of abusing children.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark also announced Monday the Church will establish a fund to compensate victims of clergy abuse in New Jersey, including in cases where the legal statute of limitations has expired.
“This program will provide the resources to compensate those victims of child sexual abuse by clergy and employees of the dioceses in New Jersey whose financial claims are legally barred by New Jersey’s statute of limitations. This will give victims a formal voice and allow them to be heard by an independent panel,” said a statement from the Archdiocese of Newark.
“The cardinal said that the program also will assure that victims who have not received any financial compensation will be paid, regardless of whether their claims meet the time requirements of the statute of limitations. This initiative will expand on the current arrangement through which the Catholic Church in New Jersey already has provided some fifty million dollars in financial settlements to victims of abuse. The vast majority of these claims had been barred by the statute of limitations,” it continued.
New Jersey’s attorney general launched a task force in September to investigate the clergy abuse scandal. That investigation came on the heels of a lengthy grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania that concluded more than 1,000 children had been abused over a span of decades by about 300 priests.
The task force will have the power to subpoena evidence and present it to a grand jury. Investigators will probe whether the state’s dioceses have complied with a 2002 memorandum of understanding that abuse complaints would be reported to law enforcement.
The New Jersey Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops on policy matters, has said it is fully cooperating and is confident the dioceses are in compliance with the memorandum
After the launch of the task force, an abuse victim hotline established by the state received so many calls that more staff had to be added, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said at the time.
That same month, the New Jersey Catholic Conference said sex abuse victims required to keep quiet by settlement agreements can speak publicly about their ordeals.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has barred such agreements since 2002 unless a victim requests confidentiality. Victims who had signed deals before 2002 can now come forward, the New Jersey conference said. It’s unclear how many of the agreements were made before 2002.
Crux staff contributed to this report.