12 October 2013

California Governor vetoes bill extending statute of limitations against Church but not against public schools

A short time ago California legislators sent Senate Bill 131 to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown that would lift the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases against children involving Catholic priests, but the same legislation would not the lift that statute in cases of sexual abuse against minors involving others:

The current bill from Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would have lifted the statute of limitations for a group of alleged victims who are 26 or older and missed the previous window [the statute of limitations had already been lifted in such cases in 2002] to file lawsuits because of time and age restrictions.

Catholic Church leaders, including the Diocese of Monterey, and representatives of other organizations in opposition, such as private schools and the State Alliance of YMCAs, said the proposal to allow claims is unfair because it does not allow accusers to sue public institutions [more].
Governor Brown courageously and rationally vetoed the legislation for the very reason the Church and other organizations opposed its passage.  In his veto statement he said:
This bill does not change a victim's ability to sue a perpetrator.  This bill also does not change the significant inequity that exists between private and public entities.  What this bill does do is go back to the only group, i.e. private institutions that have already been subjected to the unusual "one year revival period" and makes them, and them alone, subject to suit indefinitely.  This extraordinary extension of the statute of limitations, which legislators chose not to apply to public institutions, is simply too open-ended and unfair.
The discrimination between public and private institutions in California law has a long history and allows victims to sue the Catholic Church but not the public school system, a history which Governor Brown explores in his statement and calls "unreasonable, if not shocking."

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