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California bill on sex abuse lawsuits stalls

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POSTED August 15, 2013 7:58 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California bill that would give some sex abuse victims more time to sue failed to gain enough support to make it out of a key Assembly committee in Sacramento.

The bill needed nine votes in the Appropriations Committee move to the Assembly floor but received only six on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/17qYWHn) reported.

Four members of the committee opposed the bill and seven did not comment following emotional testimony from a sex abuse survivor lobbying for the bill.

Senate Bill 131 would permit the filing of lawsuits against private and nonprofit employers of alleged abusers by people who have been unable to do so due to time and age restrictions.

The proposed law would lift the statute of limitations for one year for the group of alleged victims who were 26 and older and missed the previous deadline set by a similar bill nearly a decade ago.

Supporters of the bill argue that victims need extra time to file lawsuits because it may take years for them to admit that they were molested or to realize the psychological harm caused by sexual abuse. The bill's main author, Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, says it would cost the state little money.

The Roman Catholic Church, which has fought hard against the proposed legislation, says it would be financially crippled by the bill. The church did not fight the 2002 bill that opened the floodgates for hundreds of victims and led to $1.2 billion in settlements from dioceses statewide, including $660 million in Los Angeles alone.

The church and private organizations charge they have been unfairly targeted because the bill does not apply to public schools.

The appropriations panel, which takes into consideration how much a proposal would cost the state, will review the bill again next week. It has already passed the state Senate and the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

 

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