Catholic Church opposes extending priest abuse cases

July 16, 2013 at 8:34 AM

SACRAMENTO, July 16 (UPI) -- A bill in California giving some alleged victims of sex abuse more time to sue is meeting stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, lawmakers said.

A group linked to the church, the California Council of Nonprofit Organizations, has hired five lobbying firms and spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the measure, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Opponents of SB 131 argue it opens the church, the Boy Scouts and other private and non-profit employers to lawsuits over decades-old allegations that are difficult to fight in court.

Two Catholic bishops have visited the Capitol in Sacramento to argue their case to the bill's chief author, Sen. James Beall Jr. of San Jose.

The key provision of the Beall's legislation would lift the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits for one year for a group that was 26 or older and missed a 2003 filing deadline because they recently discovered abuse-related psychological problems.

Advocates say loosening time limits is crucial in sex-abuse cases because it often takes decades for victims to admit they were molested and seek legal recourse.

An extension passed by California lawmakers in 2002 resulted in $1.2 billion in settlements along with the release of confidential documents showing church leaders, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney of Los Angeles, made plans to shield admitted molesters from law enforcement.

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