Update: Since our story aired, we heard the following response from the Buffalo Diocese:
“The IRCP is an independently administered program. We have been advised, however, that written acknowledgement of every claim was sent by the administrators to every claimant or to his or her attorney.”
Also, News 4 previously stated that the deadline to apply for the IRCP was March 1. In fact, the updated deadline was June 1, 2018.
This is a developing story.
News 4 has learned that at least 54 local clergy sex abuse victims are still waiting on a substantive response from the Buffalo Diocese regarding their claims for compensation through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, or IRCP.
The program was announced several months ago, after the Buffalo Diocese released the names of 42 priests accused of child sexual abuse.
The list was published after a South Buffalo man, Michael Whalen, went public with his story of alleged abuse as a child at the hands of Fr. Norbert F. Orsolits.
Since then, several other victims have come forward and News 4 has reported on at least a dozen additional priests being put on administrative leave following accusations of abuse.
The Diocese has said a new, updated list will be released in the near future, but has not said when exactly it will be released, or how many names will be on it.
Mike Reck with Anderson and Associates is representing 31 Buffalo-area abuse victims.
“The Diocese and the IRCP has not yet provided any substantive response. Not one case has been resolved. Not one case has any timeline on when that would happen,” he told News 4.
Reck, who has also represented victims of alleged clergy sex abuse in other dioceses across New York state, said Buffalo’s program stands out.
“The Diocese of Buffalo is the only diocese who chose not to hire the same plan administrators who are administering this fund for the other diocese in the state of New York. You cannot even contact that planned administrators without going through the Diocese of Buffalo,” he said.
News 4 has reached out to the Buffalo Diocese on this issue, and has not received a response regarding the number of victims who have not heard anything substantive about their IRCP claims.
We were referred back to the Diocese’s website on the program. We asked the Diocese how many victims they have responded to; we are still waiting on a response.
“They have in all likelihood, hundreds of survivors who are waiting and have been waiting for months and months since the deadline to even know if they’re eligible for the program. And that’s something that’s really hard when this is an institution that already failed them,” Reck told News 4.
Reck said that 10 of his 31 clients were asked if they wanted to be heard on their claim, but that’s been the only recent communication he’s had.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian is representing 32 clients in Buffalo that have applied for through the IRCP.
Garabedian told News 4 that 23 of his clients have not heard a substantive response from the Church on where their case stands.
“The settlement process created by the Diocese of Buffalo is vague, lacks clarity and is accordingly disrespectful to clergy sexual abuse victims,” he told News 4.