California Senator Jim Beall is pushing to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse. His bill, SB 131, opens a one-year window from 2014-2015 for previously barred abuse victims to file suit against alleged abusers or the employer of the abuser.
Senator Beall’s bill follows Orange County Register’s reporting on coaches sexually abusing their young female gymnasts and swimmers. However, many organizations are opposing SB 131.
The last time the statute of limitations was extended was in 2002. SB 1779 passed with little to no opposition, and it allowed victims to sue those who knew of abuse and did not address it. According to the Orange County Register, nearly 1,000 cases were filed in California in 2003 as a consequence of SB 1779. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California dioceses paid $1.2 billion in settlements.
Opponents to SB 131 say this bill would open up the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and other employers to lawsuits over old allegations that would be difficult to fight in legal battles. Currently, the Catholic Church, the California Council of Nonprofit Organizations, The California State Alliance of YMCAs, the California Assn. of Private School Organizations and USA Swimming, among others, oppose Senator Beall’s bill.
Should the statue of limitations be extended? Would third parties be able to fight decades-old allegations?
Jim Beall, California State Senator (D-San Jose); author of SB 131
Kevin Eckery, President of Eckery Associates, a crisis management firm; and spokesman for the Coalition Against 131