French Catholic Church to start paying financial reparations to victims of child sex abuse
In the first initiative of its kind, the Catholic Church in France will begin the process of paying reparations to victims of sexual abuse in the church, offering financial compensation of up to €60,000 (about $64,000), an independent commission set up to investigate the criminal cases announced on Wednesday.
Marie Derain de Vaucresson, president of the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation (INIRR), said 736 victims of abuse have contacted them as of May 31, a report by BFMTV news said. More than half of these victims have requested financial compensation, she added.
"We're building something new, which has no equivalent in France and which is different from a judicial approach as it refers to concepts in law and psychology," she said in a press conference to announce the framework of the compensation process, according to a report by the Le Monde newspaper.
Vaucresson said each case will be assessed on three parameters: The seriousness of the acts of sexual violence, the "failures" of the Church, and the consequences of the abuse on the physical, mental and social health of the victim. The case will be referred to a board of 12 experts, including lawyers, psychologists, and medical and social specialists, who will study the facts and assess the matter of compensation for damages, the report in Le Monde said.
The validated cases will be forwarded to a fund for the relief and fight against abuse of minors, created by the bishops governing body, which will make the final payment. On June 10, the INIRR will transfer the first 10 cases to the fund for compensation, Vaucresson said.
She added that the commission had not decided on any ceiling for the compensation but that it could offer up to €60,000 per person, which is equivalent to the "very upper range of civil justice compensation" in France.
The INIRR was set by the Bishops' Conference of France in November 2021, following the publication of a report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, (CIASE), established to investigate the claims of sexual abuse since 1950. The CIASE had estimated that 216,000 people were sexually assaulted as minors by a priest or member of the clergy in France.