The Catholic Diocese of New Jersey has agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims by about 300 people who have accused Camden priests of sexual assault, the Associated Press reports. Bishop Dennis Sullivan released a statement apologizing to all who have suffered sex abuse: “My prayers go out to all survivors of abuse, and I promise to help ensure that this terrible chapter in the history of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey never happened again".
Details of what exactly happened to the victims were not included in the text of the agreement between the diocese and the plaintiffs. The diocese has filed for bankruptcy, if approved, a trust will be created from whose accounts compensation will be paid to the victims. The $87.5 million settlement amount, although significant, is not a record: in the states of California and Oregon, dioceses paid more for clergy abuse.
This high number of claims by alleged victims is due to the fact that two years ago, the state of New Jersey extended the statute of limitations during which victims of sexual abuse by priests can claim compensation. Now, under state law, people who were victimized as children can sue until they are 55 or up to seven years after they realize they were harmed by the abuse.