DENVER (AP) — Facing criticism from families of victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting, officials handling the distributions of donations are consulting with a mediator who oversaw compensation for victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the Virginia Tech shooting.
An email sent by the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance to victims' families said Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, the 7/20 Committee and the Community First Foundation have initiated discussions with Kenneth Feinberg and plan to meet with him Friday in Denver.
Feinberg's office referred all questions to Hickenlooper's office, which did not provide any details about what would be discussed at the meeting. A spokeswoman for the Community First Foundation did not immediately respond to a phone message left Friday morning.
The mass shooting killed 12 people and wounded 58 others. Former University of Colorado, Denver, graduate student James Holmes has been charged in the July 20 attack.
Last week, the families of 10 people killed and at least a dozen of those wounded called on Hickenlooper and lawmakers to appoint an independent arbitrator to oversee distribution of the donations.
The families say they've been frustrated by an initial plan that would have excluded them from the process of disbursing the funds, the time the process has taken and the possibility of spending donations on mental health treatment.
Of the $5.2 million collected, $350,000 has been given to families for immediate financial needs and $100,000 has been split between 10 nonprofit groups.
ABC News first reported Feinberg's involvement.
Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed while protecting his girlfriend at the theater, remained skeptical of those in charge of the fund but said that Feinberg's involvement is probably a good thing if he "maintains his moral compass."
Teves said the pain of families who lost loved ones has been lost in the dispute over how donations should be spent.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who has called for a change in the donation assistance process for the shooting victims, said in a statement he was pleased an outside moderator was getting involved.
He said Feinberg "brings instant credibility to the process in hopes of reassuring victims, their families, and all who have contributed to the recovery fund that this will be done right."
Feinberg also oversaw relief funds following the BP oil spill and has written a book about his victim compensation work — "Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval."
In it, he wrote that more than $7 billion in taxpayer money was used to pay survivors of the 2001 terror attacks, with an average award for death about $2 million, for injury about $400,000. Ninety-eight percent of claimants participated, and just 94 families opted out so they could sue.
At Virginia Tech, $6.5 million was distributed among 32 families, including five faculty members, using a methodology that took into account the length of hospital stays for those who survived.
On Thursday, Colorado prosecutors gave up their fight to see a notebook the suspect, Holmes, sent to a university psychiatrist, saying they were seeking to avoid any delays in the case.
Holmes appeared in court with short brown hair instead of a wild shock of orangish-red hair and seemed more animated than he had been in the past. He smiled and glanced around the courtroom, looking at his lawyers and reporters covering the hearing. He appeared to be moving his mouth but not actually talking.
Holmes is charged with 152 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes in the shooting.
He has not entered a plea and won't do so until after a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors are to present evidence supporting the charges. That hearing is currently scheduled to begin Nov. 13.
Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.
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