TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday. Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.
The new deadline for claims to be filed is Feb. 15. It had been Dec. 31.
The deadline was pushed back so the dioceses could be “as inclusive as possible,” Biros said.
According to Biros, 424 claims have been filed are are being reviewed. Five have been denied because the clergy were either not diocesan priests or the victim was not a minor, she said.
The fund doesn’t cover abuses by religious order priests, such as Jesuits, who may serve in parishes or schools but are not ordained by the diocese.
Similar funds have been set up in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Colorado.
Biros said previously that a similar fund in the Philadelphia archdiocese had paid out more than $7 million to 85 victims, as of early 2019.
In New York, a similar fund has paid out more than $210 million to more than 1,100 victims in five dioceses, she said previously.
Victims in New Jersey have a couple of options now because of a new law that went into effect Dec. 1, expanding the civil statute of limitations to make it easier for childhood clergy abuse victims to sue. They can sue or seek compensation from the fund, but victims who accept money from the fund give up their right to sue.
The fund came afterword in 2018 that New Jersey’s attorney general was leading a criminal investigation into clergy sexual abuse.
That investigation came on on the heels of a grand jury probe in Pennsylvania that found more than 1,000 children had been abused by about 300 priests over a span of decades.
In addition, the Newark, the Catholic dioceses of Camden, Metuchen, Paterson and Trenton are participating in the fund.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.