FRESNO, Calif. (KGET) — Six Catholic dioceses — including the Diocese of Fresno, which includes Kern County — announced Tuesday the establishment of a compensation program for those who were sexually abused as minors by priests.
The program, named Independent Compensation Program for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests, is indepedent from church control and private mediators will design and administer the program, according to a release from the California Catholic Conference. An oversight board including former Gov. Gray Davis will oversee its implementation.
Regardless of when the abuse occurred, victims, including undocumented immigrants, can apply for compensation beginning later this year, the release says. Claims will be determined within 90 days of their filing.
The program includes the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the dioceses of Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, Orange and Fresno. These diocese have more than 10 million Catholics, roughly 80 percent of the state’s Catholic population, according to the release.
The dioceses will reach out to those who have previously reported allegations of abuse to inform them of the program, the release says. Others are invited to come forward.
Tuesday’s announcement comes amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against minors by Msgr. Craig Harrison, longtime pastor of Francis of Assisi Church in Bakersfield. Investigations are continuing in Firebaugh and Merced, both locations where Harrison served in the past, after abuse allegations were reported last month.