California abuse bill could bankrupt Catholic dioceses

Bill passed Senate

A California sex abuse bill that has been described as discriminatory against the Catholic Church has passed the legislature and is advancing to the governor’s desk, reports the Catholic News Agency.

Last Friday, the bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 21-8 at the close of the legislative session, and opponents are now asking for a veto from California Governor Jerry Brown.

The legislation would lift the statute of limitations on child sex abuse lawsuits against private schools and private employers who failed to take action against sexual abuse by employees or volunteers. It would allow alleged victims younger than 31 to sue employers of abusers, extending present age limit for alleged victims presently set at 26 years-old.

The bill specifically exempts public schools and other government institutions from lawsuits. It also exempts the actual perpetrators of the abuse from civil action in some cases, while leaving their employers vulnerable.

Potentially the most damaging provision of the legislation creates a one-year window on the statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits against employers.

A similar legal window in 2003 resulted in almost 1,000 claims against the Catholic Church in California, with legal awards totalling to A$1.3 billion. Some of these claims dated back to the 1950s.

Photo: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.

FULL STORY California advances abuse bill that could bankrupt Catholic dioceses

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