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Bill to give sex-abuse victims more time to sue advances on second try

August 21, 2013|By Melanie Mason
  • Quilts depicting victims of sexual abuse by priests are held up by victims and their supporters at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
Quilts depicting victims of sexual abuse by priests are held up by victims… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO -- After failing to muster enough support last week, a bill that would give some sex-abuse victims more time to file lawsuits advanced in an Assembly committee Wednesday.

SB 131, sponsored by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would lift the statute of limitations for one year to enable some victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue private or nonprofit employers that failed to protect them from known molesters.

The Catholic Church has fiercely lobbied against the measure, saying a flood of new suits could cripple the church economically, forcing parochial schools to close.

At an emotional hearing of the Assembly Appropriations committee last week, victims told stories of grappling with their abuse for decades after it occurred. Supporters of the measure say that because some victims can take years to acknowledge they were molested, they need more time to file lawsuits.

The church and other opponents, including private-school consortiums and organizations such as the YMCA, argued that the bill unfairly targets private and nonprofit employers.

Last week, with seven committee members abstaining, the bill failed to garner enough votes to pass. The panel considered the bill for a second time Wednesday, passing it on a 12-4 vote with one Democrat abstaining.

The bill now heads to the Assembly floor.


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