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California governor vetoes bill on sexual-abuse lawsuits

Catholic World News - October 16, 2013

Governor Jerry Brown of California has vetoed a bill that would have lifted the statute of limitations in certain sexual-abuse cases, permitting alleged victims to sue private nonprofit employers such as California dioceses but exempting public schools and government agencies.

A similar 2002 California law lifted the statute of limitations for one year.

“This bill does not change a victim's ability to sue a perpetrator,” Gov. Brown said in his veto message. “This bill also does not change the significant inequity that exists between private and public entities. What this bill does do is go back to the only group, i.e. private institutions, that have already been subjected to the unusual ‘one year revival period’ and makes them, and them alone, subject to suit indefinitely. This extraordinary extension of the statute of limitations, which legislators chose not to apply to public institutions, is simply too open-ended and unfair.”

“We are grateful that Gov. Brown chose to veto SB 131,” the California Catholic Conference said in a statement. “It was unfair to the vast majority of victims and unfair to all private and non-profit organizations.”

“The Church’s reaction has gone way beyond settling more than 1,000 cases and paying $1.2 billion in settlements,” added Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson of Los Angeles, the conference’s president. “It’s changed how we operate as a church.”

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