Sacramento loses leading advocate for sexual abuse survivors

Joseph C. George, Sr., was a man who changed trajectories.

The description is apt not just of his own life, but the lives of the staff, clients and the many people who faced the Philadelphia native in court. Most of those were with organizations who knowingly covered up abuse and tried to make it go away.

George didn't start as a lawyer. He held a doctorate in psychology while working for the military. It was while working at Travis Air Force Base that his trajectory changed. George decided to also get a law degree in an effort to go after and stop the abuse of patients by their therapists. It would open the door to a practice he never suspected he would start.

By the time of his death on April 22, 2020, at 1:17 a.m., Joseph George had garnered not only respect of those around him, he had changed the trajectory of how sexual abuse was handled across the country.

Raised as Roman Catholic in Philadelphia, George knew the great amount of respect that priests commanded and received. In interviews in subsequent years with KCRA, he would recount how the abuse angered him -- but it was nothing compared to the cover-up of abuse by the diocese throughout the state. This included priests who fled California for Mexico and beyond. George worked tirelessly to try to bring them back to justice.

In his time, George would have a lengthy list of organizations who had the unfortunate honor of facing him in court. Beyond multiple Catholic Dioceses, the Boy Scouts of America, therapists, school districts and many authority figures found themselves having to defend actions that George found indefensible -- the cover-up of abuse. It's an action he felt continued to re-victimize the survivors he was working to represent.

A member of his staff said that Joe George never lost sight of the fact that, while organizations were at fault, the individuals who continued to work for them and do good works were admirable.

The victims got more than representation. Those in the offices of Joseph George saw that the doctorate in psychology allowed for an immense amount of empathy that was matched only by the fierceness he showed in their defense.

Victims advocates, as well as staff at George's office, said that the trajectory of the fight for those sexually abused was changed by his actions as well. In 1986, when few people were talking about sexual abuse, George went after abusers and organizations. That work led to the release of more and more documents, more information and more more investigations.

Today, as attorneys general, law enforcement, district attorneys and more push for documentation of priest abuse, clergy abuse, doctors, teachers, lawyers and therapists, it is because of George's tireless work. None of that information that was released before he began filing suit after suit to obtain them.

Before his passing at the age of only 68, George saw legislative restrictions on the statute of limitations for sexual abuse relaxed. For Joe George, it was what he had preached all along -- that abuse lingers. Many of the victims might take years to come forward because of guilt, fear or anguish.

Maricar Pascual, an attorney with George's firm, is the one who said he chan..

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