Survivors and Advocates urge others to step forward as New California law has opened a window to justice for those sexually assaulted as adults
(For Immediate Release January 25, 2023)
New California law has opened a window to justice for those sexually assaulted as adults
Survivors and advocates will gather at the State Capitol today to call attention to AB 2777
Whether the abuse occurred in a religious institution or elsewhere, SNAP urges victims to take advantage of this opportunity
WHAT: At a sidewalk news conference, abuse survivors and advocates who are part of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, will gather to draw public attention to The Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act (Assembly Bill 2777), which went into effect on January 1st. SNAP will urge those who were the victims of sexual assault as adults to consider filing civil lawsuits for damages against those who abused them and the institutions that covered up for the perpetrators.
WHEN: January 26, 2023, at 1 PM
WHERE: California State Capitol, 1315 10th St (between L and N Streets), Sacramento. We will gather on the lawn to the left of the steps.
WHO: 4-5 abuse survivors and advocates, including the Sacramento area SNAP Leader who was abused as an adult by a Catholic priest and received a six-figure settlement from the Diocese of Sacramento in 2019, an attorney from the law firm that represented the SNAP Leader in her lawsuit, and a woman who included information about her abuse by two Catholic clerics in her recently published memoir and who is now hoping to take advantage of this newly opened window.
WHY: In September of last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 2777 into law. In addition to extending the civil statute of limitations for sexual assaults against adults, The Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act (Assembly Bill 2777) also provided for a window to justice for survivors of sexual assault who were attacked as adults that opened on January 1, 2023.
SNAP wants to thank all of those who made this opportunity possible. Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, who authored the bill, all the legislators who voted to enact the bill, and Governor Newsom for signing it into law, are all to be commended. This was a huge victory for survivors’ rights in the state. There can be no justice without truth, and unless someone raises their voice to speak the truth, there will be no justice.
"We believe all survivors deserve to have their day in court and hope that other states will follow in New York and California’s footsteps and pass their own version of this important legislation," said SNAP Leader Dorothy Small, who was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest as an adult. Represented by the Law Office of Joseph George, Dorothy received a $200,000 settlement from the Diocese of Sacramento in 2019.
Author Regina Wurst, who was abused by two different Catholic priests as an adult, will also be on hand to discuss her experiences. Regina is currently looking into taking advantage of The Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act.
Back in June of 2021, Pope Francis changed Catholic Church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by clergy. Despite this development, Dioceses across the United States do not include those who abuse adults on their lists. The Diocese of Sacramento names some of these men, but not Dorothy’s assailant. He remains in active ministry in the Philippines.
This bill represents a chance for all those sexually assaulted as adults – wherever their abuse occurred -- to come forward and expose their perpetrator. SNAP knows from its work with adult survivors that they – like children abused by priests -- suffer greatly from the betrayal of a trusted clergyman. After all, in the Catholic tradition, all parishioners address the priest as “Father,” who is in a position of authority over their spiritual lives.
The survivors’ group hopes that victims of sexual violence, no matter their age or where their abuse occurred, will come forward and seek the justice they deserve. SNAP also hopes that those who may have reported in the past but were ignored or fell victim to archaic, predator-friendly laws will find the strength to go through the process one more time to find healing and accountability.
CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Terri Austin, SNAP Central Coast ([email protected], 831-233-6781), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)