If you or your child has been victimized by a priest or other clergy member in New Jersey, you are entitled to financial compensation. You have the right to file a lawsuit, and you have the right to recover just compensation for all of your (or your child’s) financial and non-financial losses resulting from the abuse.
However, you may have also heard about the Independent Victim Compensation Program (IVCP). This is a program that was created by the Roman Catholic dioceses in Newark, Paterson, Metuchen, Trenton and Camden in 2019. The Diocese of Paterson’s website explains that “[t]he IVCP has been established to pay eligible victims who were sexually abused by priests and deacons of the Roman Catholic Church while minors.”
So, if you have a claim for clergy sexual abuse, which option should you choose? Should you file a civil lawsuit against the church, or should you initiate a claim under the IVCP?
Understanding Your (or Your Child’s) Legal Rights as a Victim of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Whichever type of claim you ultimately choose to pursue, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the full amount that you (or your child) is entitled to recover. If you decide to pursue an IVCP claim, you should not have to accept any less than you could recover by filing a lawsuit against the church in civil court. In civil litigation involving allegations of sexual abuse, victims can recover financial compensation for their:
- Medical treatment expenses
- Psychological and psychiatric therapy
- Prescription medications for anxiety, depression and other medical conditions
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of income and future earning capacity
- Loss of society, support, services and enjoyment of life
The amount that victims recover for each of these types of losses will depend on the specific circumstances they are facing. However, for both young children and older victims who have only recently come to understand what happened to them, the financial and non-financial costs of being sexually abused by a clergy member can be substantial.
Filing a Claim for Clergy Sexual abuse in New Jersey
To be clear, if you or your child is a victim of clergy sexual abuse, you do not have to file a claim under the IVCP. Participation is strictly voluntary, and you should not file an IVCP claim if you do not believe it is in your best interest to do so. Ultimately, you will want to make your decision based on the advice of an experienced New Jersey clergy sexual abuse attorney; and, whichever option you choose, you will want to have your attorney represent you at every step along the way.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. is a New Jersey law firm that represents individuals and families statewide in clergy sexual abuse claims. If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing a claim, we invite you to call us at 877-435-6371 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.