Bishop Sheridan's statement on Special Master Robert Troyer's report on past cases of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2019

CONTACT: Veronica Ambuul, 719-866-6489, vambuul@coloradocatholicherald.com

Bishop Michael Sheridan's Statment on Special Master Robert Troyer's report on past cases of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS. Bishop Sheridan issued the following statement regarding the release of the Special Master's report on clergy sexual abuse of children in Colorado from 1950 to 2019:

I am thankful to Attorney General Phil Weiser and to Robert Troyer and his investigative team for their thorough, honest, and forthright investigation of all of Colorado's Catholic priest files.  As difficult as this report is to read, it is an important step for the healing of abuse survivors.  It is also an important reminder that we must never become complacent in defending our children and must always seek to protect the most innocent among us.  Jesus admonishes us that it is better for a millstone to be placed around one's neck and be cast into the sea, than to lead a young one astray (Luke 17:2).

One victim of the horrific crime of child sexual abuse is too many; the Diocese of Colorado Springs must own the consequences of having three.  One predator priest is too many; the Diocese of Colorado Springs must recognize and repent of two.  Mr. Troyer's investigation found that the latest of these incidents occurred around 1986.  With Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Berg, I commit on behalf of this Diocese to fully embrace and implement each and every recommendation made by the Special Master.  Again, I commend his thoroughness and his dedication to transparency and truth.  I and my staff were honored to work with Mr. Troyer in an effort to identify and exhume our past mideeds, and we commit to making meaningful improvement to better protect every child.  I have every confidence that, working in conjunction with our Office of Child and Youth Protection, these recommendations will become a reality.

 

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Bishop Sheridan's Press Release on the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (CIRRP)

 

October 7, 2019

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Following our promise from earlier this year, I, along with my brother bishops in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Pueblo are announcing the start of a reparations program for child abuse victims.

Starting today, individuals who were sexually abused as minors by diocesan priests in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Dioceses of Pueblo and Colorado Springs may begin the process for filing claims with the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program 
(CIRRP).

Individuals who have previously notified the Dioceses of allegations of abuse will be sent CIRRP Claim packets; individuals who have not previously notified the Dioceses of allegations of abuse will be able to register with the program for an initial eligibility review. Eligible victims may file claims, regardless of when the abuse might have occurred. 

The CIRRP is independent from Church control. Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, nationally known compensation program administrators, have been working with the Colorado Bishops to design the program. The program will be overseen by an Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) consisting of: 

Hank Brown, former United States Senator, Chairman the Committee
Jeanne Smith, former elected District Attorney for Fourth Judicial District of Colorado
Laura Morales, First Bank
David Crockenberg, former judge who presided in the District Court of the Tenth Judicial District in Pueblo
Nancy Feldman, Victim's Advocate

Feinberg and Biros are administering similar compensation programs for child victims of abuse covering Catholic dioceses in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. I urge you to learn more about this important program by visiting the CIRRP's website, www.ColoradoDiocesesIRRP.com. The new program is voluntary. Victim-survivors can elect • to enter this program as an alternative to pursing their claims against the Church in court.

Feinberg and Biros will have complete independence to determine the eligibility of individual claims and they alone will determine the amount of compensation offered to any victim. The Dioceses have agreed to abide by Feinberg and Biros' decisions and the compensation determinations are not subject to appeal by the victim or the Dioceses.

Unlike civil litigation in the courts, this new program provides a process that is non­-adversarial and protects victims' privacy. Victim-survivors do not need to retain a lawyer to participate and there are no fees for participating. Compensation for fully completed and documented claims can usually be paid within 90-120 days.

Reparation amounts provided to survivors are at the sole discretions of those administering claims for the CIRRP. Initial funding for this program will be provided by existing Diocesan assets. While the number of potential claims is unknown currently, it is important to note that the Diocese will not fund the CIRRP using any money given to donor-designated funds, donations made to parishes, ministries or schools.

We have been providing pastoral care and financial support for victim-survivors here in the Diocese for many years. We will continue to do so. But we also understand that some victim-survivors are reluctant to come to the Church for assistance. Our hope with this new program is to give those who prefer to participate in an independent program a chance to seek redress and healing.

Since 2002, Catholic dioceses in Colorado have put in place strict policies and programs to protect young people and to create safe environments in parishes, schools and other ministries. Thousands of adults throughout the state have been trained in abuse prevention and reporting. Those in leadership positions have undergone background checks. Dioceses have implemented strict reporting requirements, working closely with local law enforcement officials to immediately report abuse allegations and remove accused perpetrators from ministry.

As a result, new cases of sexual misconduct by priests involving minors are rare today in the Catholic Church in Colorado. Nonetheless, the Bishops undertake this program in their continued efforts to provide avenues for victim-survivors of abuse to receive assistance to continue their healing.

The Colorado Dioceses have a longstanding commitment to the prevention of child abuse and to providing support for those who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of its clergy. We continue to express sincere sorrow for past failures that harmed the most vulnerable among us. We deeply regret the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them. The damage done to innocent young people and their families by sexual abuse in the past is profound. I realize, as you do, that no program, however well-intentioned and well-designed, can repair the damage done to victims and their families. But I pray that this new program might provide another avenue toward healing and hope

 

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February 20, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As many of you know, last Tuesday Archbishop Aquila, on behalf of all the Catholic dioceses in Colorado, announced an agreement we have reached with the Attorney General regarding the abuse of minors by priests. All three dioceses in our state are committed to transparency and increased accountability both to the faithful in our state and to all who have been harmed by the scourge of abuse.

To that end, after months of discussions and negotiations, our dioceses have agreed to an independent review of all priest personnel files by former U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer. His task will be to review all relevant files from each of the Colorado dioceses and issue an impartial report of his findings. This report will include the names of any priests who have had a substantiated claim of sexually abusing a minor. It is important for you to know that there are no active investigations of sexual misconduct with a minor by any priest in our diocese.

Transparency is not enough, however. In order to help survivors of abuse heal, we have also agreed to launch an independent survivor compensation program which will be administered by nationally recognized experts. The program will be overseen by an independent panel led by former U.S. Senator Hank Brown. The costs of the program will be funded by insurance and diocesan assets, not by parish funds, the Returning God’s Gifts Appeal, or Catholic Charities assets.

Of course, money cannot fully heal these wounds. It is my sincere prayer, however, that these steps can serve as a beginning to help survivors of abuse. The Church has much to atone for. We must recognize the evil that was perpetrated by those in a position of supreme trust. Only when this is acknowledged openly can survivors move towards peace and healing. More information about these initiatives can be found on our diocesan website at www.diocs.org.

Please join me in praying for all victims and for the efforts or all of our Catholic dioceses in Colorado to bring reconciliation to those who have been abused. All things are possible with God. He will never abandon his people.

SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE JOINT INITIATIVES

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Archbishop Samuel Aquila, on behalf of the Bishops of all three Dioceses of the Catholic Church in Colorado, today announced joint initiatives intended to support and comfort survivors of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests.

  • An independent reviewer will examine the records and policies of the three Dioceses about the sexual abuse of minors and draft a public report.

  • Additionally, the three Dioceses will fund an independent, voluntary program that will compensate victims of abuse, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

  • A separate victims’ support service will be created to assist victims/survivors with the reparations program and connect them with resources for future care.

 

For additional information:

A Solemn Promise - the Archdiocese of Denver

Bishop Sheridan's Parish Bulletin about CIRRP

Press Release

Agreement to Conduct an Independent Review

Settlement FAQ's

CO AG Press Conference Facebook Live Video

Bob Troyer Biography