The Catholic Diocese of Camden, N.J., and the committee representing about 300 survivors of clergy sexual abuse have reached an $87.5 million settlement that will establish a trust to compensate the survivors.
The trust will be funded by the diocese and related Catholic entities and some insurance funds over a four-year period.
As part of the settlement, all 62 parishes and other Catholic entities will receive releases. Claims against some insurance carriers that provided insurance to the diocese will be assigned to the trust.
The settlement does not include all of the diocese’s insurers. Plaintiffs will be free to pursue separate action against non-settling insurers, raising the possibility of additional payouts, according to Jeff Anderson, an attorney who represents 74 of the more than 300 survivors in the suit.
The Camden diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 after New Jersey extended the statute of limitations to allow claims for those alleging they were abused when they were children.
About 30 dioceses in the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy in the face of abuse claims, and the Camden monetary settlement represents one of the largest to date, according to the tracking site BishopAccountability.org.
The settlement also requires the diocese to maintain or enhance protocols for the protection of children that the church first implemented in 2002.
The settlement must still be approved by Judge Jerrold N. Poslusny Jr. of the U.S. Bankruptcy court in Camden.
“The Survivors’ Committee is pleased to have reached a consensual resolution of its disputes with the Diocese and looks forward to facilitating an expeditious distribution to survivors of sexual abuse,” Jeffrey Prol, counsel for the survivors’ committee, said in a statement.
Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of the Camden diocese said the church is pleased that the mediation process has led to a settlement. “I want to express my sincere apology to all those who have been affected by sexual abuse in our Diocese. My prayers go out to all survivors of abuse, and I pledge my continuing commitment to ensure that this terrible chapter in the history of the Diocese of Camden, N.J., never happens again,” he said in a statement.