An advocate of clergy sex abuse victims is slamming the Diocese of Buffalo for closing the book on its compensation program.

On Tuesday, diocesan officials issued a report detailing $17.6 million in payments, which the diocese refers to as “awards”, to victims through its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

The program began in March 2018. Fifteen months later, it’s done, to the disappointment of Robert Hoatson, who is the president of Road to Recovery.

Hoatson spent his Wednesday across the street from diocesan headquarters as a form of protest, something he hasn’t been shy to do over the past year.

“We’re here to respond to the – quote- pat on the back that Bishop (Richard) Malone appears to be giving himself,” Hoatson said.

The IRCP program included offers to 127 victims, the report said. Most of them, 107, accepted their offer. However, diocesans officials report 135 people who filed claims were denied offers.

“How is it that 135 victims who have come forward in this diocese have been rejected by this program?” Hoatson wondered. “We find that outlandish and outrageous.”

According to the report, “The most frequent objection by the diocese was that a claim had not been reported to the diocese prior to March 1, 2018 and therefore did not meet that eligibility requirement.”

The program was administered by two retired judges and it precludes anyone who accepted a payment from suing the diocese when the one-year lookback window pursuant to the Child Victims Act opens in August 2019. That window gives victims who are currently time-barred from taking civil action against their abuser a chance to file a claim.

In its report, the diocese noted the impact of the Child Victims Act is not yet known, and indicated that was a reason the IRCP program would not be expanded at this time.

The report also noted diocesan officials received an “unexpectedly large number of claims,” something Hoatson thinks indicates that the clergy sex abuse scandal is more widespread than the Church realizes. He’s hopeful that the diocese will eventually re-open the IRCP program.

“If Bishop Malone closes the process of compensation, what happens to those people perhaps who might be ready to come forward?” he asked. 

“There should never be an end to any process of justice.”