Please see the attached description of the Victim Assistance Fund established by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine to give support to the healing journey of individuals impacted by abuse and to regularly contribute to services that support children and families. This fund is especially directed for claimants who witnessed abuse from one or more of our Sisters over 50 years ago. This is a significant heartache for our congregation who daily worked so hard to bring wholeness and healing to people’s lives throughout the 171 years of our Congregation. Enclosed is the apology letter sent to the victims and the description of the Victim Assistance Fund. We are grateful for your prayers for all of the victims and their families.
Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Victims Assistance Fund
To assist in the healing process and to stand with victims of physical and sexual abuse by providing compensation to individuals harmed by members of our Congregation, following a verification process, and to support victims through contributions to support organizations.
Statement of purpose:
Throughout the history of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, protecting the most vulnerable has been central to our healing ministry. The mission of many of the ministries that are provided by our sisters and staff work towards the dignity of all especially women and children. We are grateful for the courage of survivors who have come forward. Because of them our own understanding of the long-term effects of abuse and sexual misconduct have expanded and deepened. We will keep working for the healing of victims and the prevention of further abuse.
How the fund will work:
Step One: A Victim Assistance Coordinator will conduct an initial interview on behalf of the Sister of Charity to gather information and offer counseling if needed to assist in healing. The information to be gathered will include information such as the following:
- Name, telephone number, and address of the reporting party.
- Name of the alleged victim.
- Birthdate and age of the victim at the time of the alleged abuse.
- Dates of the alleged abuse.
- A description of the alleged abuse.
- Name of the alleged perpetrator of the abuse and any other member(s) of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine involved.
- Verification of dates claimant stayed at the Parmadale Children’s Village, if relevant.
- Whether the allegation has been reported to civil authorities.
- Requests for any supporting documentation, which may include:
- Copies of contemporaneous notification, such as in a letter about the abuse from the claimant to family, friends, church officials, law enforcement or others.
- Medical or counseling records for treatment received relevant to the abuse.
- Police or other law enforcement records.
Step Two: The Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine will interview the person, offering an apology, care and compassion.
Step Three: A claimant pursuing compensation will complete a letter or application to the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine identifying a specified need for which compensation would directly assist in the individual’s healing process.
Step Four: The board of the Fund will decide on compensation, based on the facts presented by the claimant in the initial intake by the Victim Assistance Coordinator and the interview by the Congregation and the requested need the victim is asking to be funded.
Additionally, on an annual basis, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine will make a contribution to an organization that focuses on the care and needs of women and children.
Promise of Confidentiality for Claimants
Claimants’ identities and any information supplied in applying for the fund will not be shared publicly by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine or anyone acting on their behalf in administering the fund. Claimants may always, if they choose, share information in their possession regarding their claim, compensation and other details of their experience.
If a claimant chooses to accept a final payment pursuant to this Protocol, the Claimant will be required to sign a Full Release of all past and future claims against any party relating to such allegation of abuse. Before signing a such a release, the Claimant will be required to consult with an attorney for the sole purpose of advising the Claimant concerning the binding nature, language and significance of the Release. If the Claimant does not have an attorney, the fund administrators will provide an independent attorney consult with the claimant for this purpose free of charge.
Only if the individual victim accepts the amount offered will a signed release be required, in which the victim agrees not to engage in any further litigation against the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.
Letter of Apology:
I want to again express my deepest sympathies and say how sorry we are for the pain and suffering you have related to us and experienced while you were at Parmadale Children’s Village of St. Vincent de Paul.
It has been heartbreaking to listen to what you endured, and I can only imagine the anguish of living with these experiences and their after-effects for many years. I can only hope the unburdening of these terrible memories and the knowledge they were heard and believed may provide some small measure of peace.
I want you to know that our investigative process continues, including a victim assistance coordinator, the use of an independent investigator and the convening of a review panel commissioned with the development of recommendations to the Congregation.
I also want you to know that we are establishing a victim assistance fund. While we are still in the initial stages of establishing the fund and working through the details of how it will be applied and administered, we are committed to using it to assist in the healing process.
Finally, I want to assure you that we will continue to protect your privacy and will not be publicly sharing any details about your experience. Your courage in coming forward has helped deepen our own understandings of the long-term effects of abuse and sexual misconduct. We are more committed than ever to keep working for the healing of victims and the prevention of future abuse.