Vote in CA on window on Tues. CA residents– contact your elected reps and tell them to protect the children, not the bishops

“They know they don’t have to keep their victims quiet forever, just long enough to run out the clock”

As has been previously discussed, one of the major issues regarding childhood sexual abuse and justice is that the statute of limitations vary state to state.  Often times, the statute has run out by the time a victim/survivor is ready to talk about what happened to them.  However, many states are re-visiting this issue and some are making changes:

Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill that would completely eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, but that bill has some powerful opponents.Pennsylvania state Rep. Michael McGeehan is sponsoring a bill that would temporarily waive the statute of limitations for sex abuse charges.

Tree Climbers: Arkansas Lifts Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes Involving Minors

Tree Climbers: A WATERSHED Moment for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors (New York Ruling Statute of Limitations)…federal judge Frederic Block, in what may be a watershed moment for sexual abuse survivors, ruled in August that portions of the suit could proceed because administrators may have lied when they said they did not become aware of the abuse allegations until 1991.

New York state law requires survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a case by the time they are 23 years old. But Block agreed with Mulhearn when he allowed portions of the suit to proceed in August, ruling that Poly Prep could not use the statute of limitations to block the suit if administrators had consistently lied about when they first learned about the allegations.


The Catholic Church, California & The Statute of Limitations (SB131)

The following email came to Bob McPhail, Cal Catholic editor, on July 31.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Moderator of the Curia/Vicar GeneralTO:                   Bob
FROM:            Rev. Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, Moderator of the Curia / Vicar General
DATE:             July 31, 2013

Archbishop Gomez has asked me to send the following important message to you:

Friends, my brother bishops and I in the California Catholic Conference are asking all Catholics to contact their Assembly members and Senators and urge them to vote “No” on Senate Bill 131.

SB-131 fails to protect all victims of childhood sexual abuse, discriminates against Catholic schools and other private employers, and puts the Church’s social services and educational mission at risk. We have set up a website that will enable you to easily email your elected officials directly:….

It is urgent that we all act now. The State Legislature will take up SB-131 in the week of August 10th. Thank you for taking the time to communicate with your elected officials about this.

Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families.

In Christ,
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles

And, if you click on the link embeded above, it takes you to a “Vote No on SB131 “helpful” website.  Some of the reasons why the Catholic Church of California wants you to vote no?

(emphasis mine)

1.Senate Bill 131, now before the California Legislature, would suspend for one year a deadline (called a “statute of limitations”) to give childhood sexual abuse victims the chance to sue their abusers’ employers for damages resulting from their abuse.

and this is bad…why?

2.SB-131 is not good legislation because it does not protect all children. In fact, the billonly allows lawsuits to be filed by children who were abused in religious and other private schools and organizations such as the YMCA or Little League. Children who were abused by public school teachers or other public employees are specifically not protected by SB 131. That means this legislation offers no protection for the 92 percent of California’s children who attend public schools or for children in foster care or in other public settings.

nothing protects all children – least of which, history has shown us, is the Catholic Church.


3.SB-131 unfairly targets only Catholic-run and other private institutions because it only allows lawsuits against private schools and organizations and specifically exempts public schools and other public institutions. The sexual abuse of children is a social reality. It is not limited to private institutions. Any legislation that seeks to deal with this grave problem should be applied to protect victims in all institutions in society — public and private— equally.

Perhaps Marci Hamilton can say it better than I:

True, SB131 does not cover public institutions.  As I argue in Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children, public institutions need justice for sex abuse.I wholeheartedly urge the California legislature to take up that issue as well, and to consider a separate bill involving state and local institutions.  These institutions are always treated differently than private institutions, and issues like sovereign immunity, which are irrelevant to the private sphere, need to be considered when such institutions are at issue.  Let’s create justice for all victims of child sex abuse.  But there is no necessity that all entities are included in any one bill.  SB131 includes some of those that absolutely need to be addressed: families especially.

4.SB-131 does nothing to increase penalties against the actual abusers of children. The bill allows for monetary damages to be imposed on private employers. But it does not impose any civil or criminal penalties on the perpetrator.

I have said from the beginning that those who would abuse children are sick, but those who KNOW children are being abused – and do nothing?  They are just as guilty as the perpetrator themselves.

When it comes to institutional cover-up I believe there should be no statute of limitations in prosecuting both the offenders and those who conspired to cover for them.  That’s just my personal belief and something I would like to see further addressed.  The reason being is that no longer is it the word of one child/now adult versus one perpetrator, but others knew or had a duty to know (see willful blindness: “If there is knowledge that you could have had, should have had but chose not to have, you are still responsible.”) and made the choice to let the abuse continue.

Willful Blindness:  These narratives always follow the same trajectory: years of abuse involving a large number of participants, plenty of warning signs and, when the problem finally explodes, howls of pain: How could we have been so blind?Cases of willful blindness aren’t about hindsight. They feature contemporaneous information that was available but ignored. While it’s tempting to pillory individual villains, the causes are more often systemic and cultural. There are many reasons –psychological, social and structural — why we don’t see what we most need to notice. None of them provides an alibi or an excuse. What each does is shed light on how these organizational car crashes happen – and how they might be prevented.

A plea from a mother

(emphasis mine)

[The Catholic Church has] spent $$180,000 to lobby and undermine the bill to protect the rights of victims of Child Sexual Abuse, with their pressure they have moved SB131 into appropriations committee, a clandestine process: the least transparent committee. The Unofficial vote is next Wed Aug 14th, We urge all Californian’s to contact members of the appropriation committee and urge a yes vote on Victims Rights, and contact your Assembly member and get their support!!!The Catholic church is concerned about liability and truth is they should be. They covered up a crime! Child Rape should be considered a crime and treated as such. Once the LA Diocese was ordered to turn over records we discovered how many pedophile priests where moved around after the abuse was discovered. This discovery
implicated the church it also identifies a molester who should be prosecuted and taken out of the lives of children. This Victim Rights bill is a protection of innocence and not just a monetary issue. There would be no need for such a bill if we treated Child Sexual Abuse as a crime in the first place and protected our children instead of perpetrators.

I believe SB 131 comes up for a vote next week – August 14, 2013.  If you live in California and are so inclined, please contact your appropriate representative and let them know this is at least a step in the right direction.  Will it give all victims justice?  No, but it will hold accountable those organizations that we already know hid this heinous abuse, and perhaps stop future organizations from covering it up.

The preface to the amended SB 131 follows after the jump – as well as a video of the senate committee hearing with powerful victim/survivor testimony

Professor Marci Hamilton has written about this as well:
“The choice is plain: protect children, or protect predators and the institutions that gave them access to children.  The victims of child sex abuse who are suffering right now need state legislators to do the right thing, for the right reasons, and to send packing the bishops who have lost their way on the issue of justice.” ~Marci Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is a professor of law at Cardozo School of Law, and the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children, which was just published in paperback with a new Preface. Her email address is


SB 131, as amended, Beall. Damages: childhood sexual abuse: statute of limitations.Existing law requires that an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse, as defined, be commenced within 8 years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within 3 years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurs later. Existing law provides that certain actions may be commenced on and after the plaintiff’s 26th birthday if the person or entity against whom the action is commenced knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, and failed to take reasonable steps, and to implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct in the future by that person. For a period of one year commencing January 1, 2003, existing law revived certain actions that would otherwise be barred solely because the applicable statute of limitations had expired.

This bill would provide that the time limits for commencement of an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse shall be applied retroactively to any claim that has not been adjudicated to finality on the merits as of January 1, 2014. This bill would revive, for a period of one year, a cause of action, as specified, that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations as of January 1, 2014, provided that the plaintiff’s 26th birthday was before January 1, 2003, and the plaintiff discovered the cause of his or her injury on or after January 1, 2004.

This bill would provide that a plaintiff party shall be entitled to conduct discovery before the court may rule on a motion challenging the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s showing that a person or entity knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct and failed to take reasonable steps, and to implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid those act acts in the future. This bill would specify that this entitlement shall not apply to a cause of action revived pursuant to these provisions.