By Victor Garza, Rose Amador | 08/28/13
Child sex abuse is a terrible crime and one that each and every one of us has a moral, legal and ethical responsibility to expose and prevent. There are many ways that the law can and should deal with the problem, but as local leaders of the La Raza Roundtable de California, we don’t believe SB 131, a bill by state Sen. Jim Beall (D-Campbell) is one of them.
On the surface, SB 131 looks like serious legislation to deal with the rights of victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abuser by reviving claims that have died because the statute of limitations has expired. But scratch the surface, and people should have serious concerns about how it addresses the problem.
Because SB 131 isn’t about victims. It’s about lawsuits. If it were about victims, it would focus on the perpetrators of abuse and give new rights to all victims of sexual abuse, but it doesn’t.
Instead, SB 131 discriminates against the poor and less well off by reviving legal claims for child sex abuse only against private and non-profit organizations like private schools or groups like Little League or youth soccer, but not against public schools, public agencies or government workers of any kind.
So if someone is abused at Stanford or Santa Clara or some other private school or college, they could sue. But if they were abused by someone associated with a public school, or a city-run day care or a community college like DeAnza, they’re out of luck. The bill makes sure public schools and local governments have complete immunity—i.e. they cannot be sued—for any incidents of child sex abuse that took place before 2009.
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