Poorly written Legislation does not Advance Efforts to Protect Children and Exposes Church to Unlimited Liability.

DioceseCoatOfArms2012Small

A message from Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Diocese of Orange

Our Diocese is confronted with a challenge with significant implications for not only the Church, but groups like the YMCA, Little League, AYSO, Big Brothers and Sisters Clubs and hundreds of other private service organizations that care for children.

In the late evening of May 29th, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 131, newly proposed legislation authored by state Senator Jim Beall (D-Campbell) and supported by trial attorneys. This legislation seeks to amend the current California statute of limitations as it relates to the filing of civil lawsuits concerning the abuse of minors by again opening another one-year window for those alleging long past abuse to sue the Church and other non-profit services organizations. Regrettably, after its passage in the Senate, this legislation is one step closer to being enacted and will be heard within the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee as early as August 14 and later by the entire State Assembly in late August.

If enacted, this bill offers no further protections to children nor does it increase criminal penalties for abusers. What it does do is expose the Church and other not-for-profit organizations to unlimited liability. The bill’s author claims that this legislation will help victims, protect children and prevent abuse. The Catholic Church strongly supports these aims and has worked tirelessly over the past decade to advance such efforts. But the Church does not support SB 131 in its current form because it does not extend any added protection to the 90 percent of children who attend public school, while targeting not-for-profit service organizations, such as our Church.

Please share the included Orange County Catholic article with parishioners, direct them to the legislative action alert posted on the Diocesan website (www.rcbo.org) and share the attached talking points regarding this important issue.

If this bill passes the assembly appropriations committee in its current form, we will solicit your help in engaging your parishioners to reach out to their assembly members, encouraging them to vote against this bill or abstain form voting.

Sincerely in Christ,

+ Bishop Kevin Vann

The Truth About SB 131 – OC Catholic
http://www.occatholicnews.com/the-truth-about-sb-131/

More on proposed SB131

Background
• SB 131 is proposed legislation authored by state Senator Jim Beall (D-Campbell) and supported by trial attorneys that seeks to amend the current California statute of limitations as it relates to the filing of civil lawsuits concerning the abuse of minors by again opening another one-year window for those alleging long past abuse to sue not only the Church, but also the YMCA, Little League, AYSO, Big Brothers and Sisters Clubs and hundreds of other private service organizations that care for children.
• Supporters of SB 131 were able to garner the minimum number of votes (21) needed for the bill’s passage in the State Senate in face of vociferous opposition by many concerned Catholics and Californians that worked tirelessly opposing this bill, thinking this legislation is poorly written, does not adequately protect children and unduly impacts the Church and other not-for-profit organizations.
• Regrettably, after its passage in the Senate, this legislation is one step closer to being enacted and will be voted on by California State Assembly this summer.
• If enacted, this bill would expose the Church and other not-for-profit organizations to unlimited liability while offering no further protections to children or increasing criminal penalties for abusers.

Poorly written legislation does not advance efforts to protect children
• According to the bill’s author, this legislation was introduced to help victims, protect children and prevent abuse. The Catholic Church strongly supports these aims and has worked tirelessly over the past decade to advance such efforts.
But the Church does not support SB 131 in its current form because it does not extend any added protection to the 90 percent of children who attend public school, while unduly targeting not-for-profit service organizations, such as our Church.
• Dioceses throughout California have worked to atone for past mistakes and have implemented robust procedures to ensure children and young people are as safe as we can make them. They have also pressed for changes in law and society to ensure children and young people are protected.
• SB 131 does little to help advance this critical work. Existing law protects public schools, city recreation leagues and other local governments from being sued for any abuse that took place before 2009.
• Additionally, SB 131 does nothing to encourage prosecutions of alleged abuse in criminal court and does not increase penalties for abusers or extend the criminal statute of limitations.

Bill discriminates against the Church and other not-for-profits
• The changes within the proposed law will only affect private employers such as churches, youth leagues, the YMCA, foster homes and private schools by opening up yet another one year window for victims of long past abuse to sue private employers, opening them up to unlimited liability.
• This legislative effort suggests the California assembly continues to be committed to preventing the abuse of minors. However, to focus its statutory penalties against a select few organizations is misguided.
• SB131 would allow the single largest constituency, government run public schools, to be shielded from its intent. Because of this, the Church cannot support SB131′s unfair and ineffective real-world implications. Its ratification would penalize the Catholic Church and hundreds of private not-for-profit service organizations.

The Church supports legislation that protects our children from abuse. SB 131 is not that legislation.
• Please join the California Bishops in urging the legislature to re-think SB131 – extending or modifying the statute of limitations in a way that would truly seek to stop abuse, punish the abuser, protect children and aid victims is appropriate, but the current approach is not.
• Reach out to your assembly members and urge them to oppose this legislation. A list of assembly members, links to the Catholic Legislative Network and other resources are available at www.rcbo.org.