New Jersey Diocese Agrees to Settle Sex Abuse Claims for $87.5 Million

A New Jersey Catholic diocese has agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle sex abuse claims made by hundreds of people who accused clergy members of sexually abusing them. 

It marked one of the biggest settlements involving the Catholic Church in the U.S. The settlement included roughly 300 plaintiffs. 

It also may be a first for such litigation. The ultimate payout to the plaintiffs in the case could end up being substantially higher. Lawyers representing the claimants said that the payout could be higher because the settlement allows for further litigation against the insurance companies that represented the diocese, parishes, and schools. 

A lawyer for about a quarter of the plaintiffs, Jeff Anderson, said that this is a triumph of courage and that all credit must go to the survivors for staying strong and unified. 

Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the leader of the New Jersey diocese, issued a statement offering an apology to all of those who have been affected by sexual abuse in his diocese. He promised to continue ensuring this “terrible chapter” never happens again. 

Three years ago, New Jersey became one of a number of states to extend its civil statute of limitations so that people who were sexually abused as children could sue. 

Amid a growing number of sexual abuse claims, in 2020, the diocese filed bankruptcy, which has 62 parishes and serves about 500,000 Catholics in six southern New Jersey counties. Bishop Sullivan had named 56 priests and a deacon connected to the diocese who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. 

It is part of a broader disclosure by New Jersey’s Catholic bishops that nearly 200 priests had been accused of sexual abuse in the state. 

The settlement will put $87.5 million into a trust to be paid out over four years. Individual payouts will vary, but the average amount per person will be about $300,000. 

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