Victim: Diocese ‘short-changing’ victims in abuse settlements

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ROCKVILLE CENTRE -

The Diocese of Rockville Centre offered settlements to hundreds of victims of clergy abuse, but some say the settlement doesn't cover all victims.

Harold Siering says he was sexually abused in the 1970s at a Catholic school on Long Island by a Franciscan brother. He says the abuse started when he was about 10 years old, and lasted into his teens.

"I kept it hidden, because the abusers, they tell you, 'If you tell anybody, no one is going to believe you,’" Siering told News 12.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre started a compensation program for victims who were sexually abused at the hands of priests. The diocese has received almost 300 claims since the program opened up last year – awarding victims sums of $25,000 to $500,000.

But the program doesn't compensate victims like Siering who were abused by church officials who weren't priests.

Siering believes the church is trying to save money by compensating victims before the attorney general completes its investigation of all eight Catholic dioceses in New York state for allegations of sexual abuse.

"They're short-changing the victims,” says Siering. “And if they were really honest, they would open it up to everybody, because it's under your watch, under your schools. You have to accept responsibility. You're liable."

Even though the diocese is settling with victims, it’s still refusing to identify priests accused of sexual abuse.

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