NEWSFLASH: California Governor Vetoes Child Victims Act

4958202473_5e46c1f937Over the weekend, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 131. The veto comes as a disappointment to many who, despite the fact that Gov. Brown is a former Jesuit seminarian, felt that he would let the bill, also known as the Child Victims Act, pass into law. It would have extended the statute of limitations temporarily in order to let victims of sexual abuse seek damages against the private institutions who employed their abusers.

The basis for the bill, authored by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), is the fact that many victims of child sexual abuse don’t come forward until much later in life. Oftentimes this is due to humiliation, fear or pressure from within the community, but sometimes it’s because victims use repression as a coping mechanism and don’t fully realize the psychological impact the abuse had on them until they are adults. By the time they come forward, the statute of limitations has run out and they have no further recourse for seeking justice.

Catholic dioceses and church officials across California, as well as organizations such as USA Swimming and the Boy Scouts of America, put tremendous pressure and high-end lobbyists on the governor’s office to veto, as the bill would open them up to potential lawsuits. Gov. Brown stated in his veto message that the bill unfairly targets private institutions and not public ones.

Melanie Sakoda, East Bay director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told Ms;,

I was personally saddened by the governor’s decision to veto; it was a decision that favors private institutions over innocent children. … but sexual abuse activists haven’t given up the fight. Statute of limitations reform will be back in one form or another.

Photo of Governor Brown courtesy of Flickr user Jonathon Gibby via Creative Commons.

 

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Melissa McGlensey recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in English and Spanish with a minor in creative writing; she is currently interning at Ms.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Marlene McGlensey says:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention – I never heard about this on TV. Sorry it didn’t get more coverage – maybe the church pressured the tv stations too?

  2. Tim Lennon says:

    Governor Brown vetoed a modest bill (SB 131) expanding the ability of of victims of child sex abuse, rape and terrorism to achieve some justice.
    However, this ex-Jesuit seminarian says that child rapists and molesters and those who cover up for them “should be secure in reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to future lawsuits.”
    I, and other victims of childhood rape and molestation, also have a “reasonable expectation” of justice and consequences for those responsible.

  3. The article states this which I wholeheartedly agree from experiencing abuse, “Oftentimes this is due to humiliation, fear or pressure from within the community, but sometimes it’s because victims use repression as a coping mechanism and don’t fully realize the psychological impact the abuse had on them until they are adults.”

    Yes, children are guarded by their own mechanisms of repression. I believe the new book out by Elizabeth Smart is important reading to understanding how this psychological impact interferes with reason until the innocent victim is in some place of reasonable safety for the mind to function and come to be able to cope with the crimes of sexual assault. I stand by Melanie Sakoda, East Bay director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), who told Ms: “the activists fighting against the harm done to children will not be stopped’ by the former Jesuit Seminarian Governor, Jerry Brown of California. This is battle that is needed in each state until the children are freed from harm. People will continue to use repression, and also perhaps the use of addicting substances to blind their pain until truth is known and they can heal in a safe place. This is a lot to ask for children. It is our job to advocate for these children . Survivors of Sexual Abuse appear to be improved when they can stand up and make a difference to help children who are being held hostage by the law and cannot speak for themselves even when the truth arrives. The laws need changed to support these innocent ones.
    Support SNAPNETWORK.org. Realize when Sexual Abuse happens in families and in the extended
    church family, those closest to the victim are often times the enabler to keep the abuse under cover.
    It is so important for these laws.

  4. Dr.Brian Hunt. says:

    S.B. 131 was a poor bill as it discriminated against private organizations while letting public ones off.

    Gov. Brown is to be congratulated for seeing through this bill and seeing that the trial Lawyers were interested in the bill as a means for accumulating more money into their pockets.
    The bill had to be vetoed as it was discrimatory and would not have stood up to court challenges.
    Our members in Sacramento should have seen this especially since most of them are lawyers.
    When are we going to elect people of intelligence and stop devising all these silly bills ?

    Our representatives should study President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and surround themselves with intelligent advisors.
    Cheers,
    Dr.Brian W. Hunt.

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