Lawmakers say the bill corrects a Supreme Court case that, because the statute of limitations had been reached, denied a narrow group of child sex-abuse victims the right sue religious organizations, private and nonprofit groups that employed their abusers.
“If we didn’t do it, the law would still be invalid and the people would waiting on the legislature to see if we wanted to correct the law,” said Sen. Jim Beall.
Under the proposed law, victims over the age of 26 in 2003 will have a chance to file lawsuits during a one-year period.
On October 13, 2013 Governor Jerry Brown has refused to sign SB 131 into Californian law.
Brown studied to become a Catholic priest as a young man. This will doubtless fuel debate as to Brown’s motivations for turning down the bill. Kathleen Conti, a keen supporter of SB 131, expressed her sorrow this morning. “It is extremely disappointing that our Governor has allowed powerful deep-pocketed religious leaders, influential religious lobbyists and law firms to cloud the real issue here, which is the right of abuse victims to pursue justice for crimes committed against them,” she said. “Subpoenaed documents clearly show that certain religious institutions have been fully aware of the danger posed to children by pedophiles within their own ranks, but have kept things secret and handled matters internally instead of warning parents and letting the proper authorities handle perpetrators. I find it distressing that congregants will continue to not only attend but also financially support such morally bankrupt institutions who claim to have God’s blessing while at the same time being guilty of concealing crimes against children.”