Diocese Of Richmond Virginia announces “Reconciliation” Program, SNAP Responds
The Diocese of Richmond in Virginia has announced their plans to create a compensation fund for survivors of clergy abuse. While we appreciate the gesture, we hope that survivors in Virginia will carefully consider their options before signing on.
We believe that the best way to expose wrongdoing and enforce accountability is for crimes to be made public and for punishment and compensation to be meted out by courts, not the institutions that allowed the wrongdoing to happen in the first place. Survivors deserve a chance to have their day in court and shed light on their abuse, a critical step towards getting information into the hands of parents and the public.
The best course to obtaining justice would be for the state of Virginia to completely eliminate the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse going forward, allowing civil liability for perpetrators and those who protect them. A three year civil window would also permit survivors who were unable to come forward before the SOL in their case expired to have their day in court.
Removing a survivor’s right to sue – as is common in compensation programs – prevents them from using legal tools in the future that can compel dioceses to release information or correct misinformation.
We hope that survivors in Virginia will take steps to learn about their legal rights and the potential pitfalls of compensation programs before signing on. While we believe that eliminating the SOLs going forward, and opening up a civil window, is the optimum way for survivors to obtain the justice and compensation they want and need, we fully support any survivor who decides that it is best for him or her to participate in a reparation program.
Regardless of what steps they take towards compensation, we hope that all victims will first make a report to the police and the Virginia Attorney General’s office.
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Treasurer and SNAP Virginia Leader ([email protected], 703-801-6044), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected][email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)