Are California Catholic dioceses using victim compensation fund to prevent future lawsuits?

ABC 10 News

May 27, 2019

By Lilia Luciano

In California, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they are 26 years old to file lawsuit damages, a statute of limitations that Assemblywoman Lorena González hopes to extend until those victims are 40 years old.

Introduced by González, AB 218 seeks to significantly extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

The bill is exactly the same as the one González (D-San Diego) introduced last year, which passed, but was killed when vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2013 Brown also vetoed a Senate bill that sought to eliminate the statute of limitation altogether.

With a new Governor in the state, supporters of AB 218 are hopeful that it will pass and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The timing of the bill’s passing could coincide with the recent announcement by the Sacramento Catholic Diocese that it will participate in the creation of an Independent Victim Compensation Program for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

The fund will be administered by the Washington D.C. based Feinberg Law Firm, which has handled similar programs in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

In the announcement, the Diocese of Sacramento stated “through their efforts, more than 1,200 victims/survivors have received compensation in New York alone.”

The Sacramento diocese released the names of 46 clergymen credibly accused of abusing 130 victims, but Joe George, the leading attorney in Sacramento representing victims of clergy abuse said about the list, “I think games were played with numbers of victims.”

He added that the Church made it seem like the “overwhelming majority of the number of victims were as a result of three or four Mexican-American and Hispanic perpetrators.”

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