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Bill That Would Give Victims of Sex Crimes More Time to Sue Progresses

Sunday, August 25, 2013

There has been some progress in approval of a bill that would help victims of sex crimes to file civil lawsuits. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Jim Beall, Democrat-San Jose, advanced recently in a California Assembly Committee.

SB 131 would lift the statute of limitations for persons who have suffered sex crimes to file lawsuits, for one year. The specific aim of the bill is to give more time for victims to sue private nonprofit employers who failed to protect them from the sex abuse. One particular entity that would be affected by any law that would lift the statute of limitations for persons, who want to file lawsuits based on sexual abuse, is the Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, the Church has been strongly opposed to the bill.

The Church has insisted that lifting the statute of limitations will simply increase the number of people who file lawsuits against the Church based on sexual abuse by clergymen. The Church has insisted that such a lift of the statute of limitations would be economically crippling to the Church which has already paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in sexual abuse lawsuit settlements. Any lift of the statute of limitations would once again bring in a flood of lawsuits by victims.

Supporters of the bill say that they need more time to file lawsuits because, in many cases, victims may not be able to handle the abuse, and may not even remember the abuse or acknowledge that they had been molested for years. Other groups that oppose the bill include private schools and organizations such as the YMCA that have been targeted in sexual abuse lawsuits.

The bill is now headed towards the assembly floor.

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