CA - Victims Praise Ruling Upholding California's Child Sex Abuse Law
For immediate release:
Friday, July 16 , 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director (314) 566 9790
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mary Grant of Long Beach, Western Regional Director (626) 419 2930 cell
Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA, Board Member (703) 771 9606,
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, Board Member (414) 429 7259 cell,
Sex Abuses Victims Praise New California Ruling
Those Molested "May Finally Get Their Day In Court"
California Court Upholds State's Child Sex Abuse Law
Hundreds of Civil Lawsuits Against Sex Offenders Can Proceed
"This is a huge victory for justice, healing and prevention," said Mary Grant of Long Beach. She is the Western Regional Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).
In a six page decision, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw tentatively upheld the state's unique child sex abuse law, despite an effort by several Catholic church leaders to overturn it. A final ruling is expected in a few weeks.
Sabraw determined that the statute, which has enabled hundreds of alleged sex abuse victims to sue their molesters, is constitutional.
If the ruling stands, it means that roughly 800 civil lawsuits against accused priests, brothers and nuns in California can proceed.
"Unless the judge changes his mind or is overruled, victims can begin finally holding bishops accountable for the harm they and their employee-priests have inflicted on innocent Catholic families," said Grant. "This has always been the key issue: forcing the hierarchy to change so kids will be safer. That won't happen unless they feel the pressure to change."
"Hundreds of wounded men and women are a small but significant step closer to healing and closure," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's founder and president.
"Thousands of California Catholics are a step closer to learning about how much bishops covered up and enabled sex crimes."
A final decision will likely be rendered in a few weeks. The new law was passed in 2002 and provided a one-year "window" during which adults molested even decades ago could take legal action against their abusers. It was sponsored by State Senator John Burton.
The full text of Sabraw's ruling can be found at SNAPnetwork.org
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.