Saturday was a sad day for all survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California. Governor Jerry Brown, succumbing to an intense and well-financed lobbying effort from private institutions including the Catholic Church, vetoed Senate Bill 131 which would have provided abuse survivors an opportunity to seek justice in the courts.
Brown wrote a three page explanation for his veto but in the end, he turned his back on children. Brown wrote in part, “There comes a time when an individual or organization should be secure in the reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to further lawsuits.”
His position completely ignores the now-understood fact that so many victims of child sexual abuse live with a burden of shame that cripples them from coming forward for years, even decades. For those people to get justice, they need time. That is why so many states, including Oregon, have passed laws giving child sexual abuse victims longer periods of time in which to file lawsuits. This was California’s chance to do the same thing for children, and Governor Brown fumbled it.
Brown had been the focus of a multi-million dollar lobbying effort and finally couldn’t muster the courage to do the right thing for children.
California survivor advocates have vowed to put the issue on the ballot next fall.
There is no justice when sexual abusers of children and the institutions that protect them can hide behind antiquated statutes of limitations. Children are too important for us to do nothing. We will keep fighting for abuse survivor rights in spite of Governor Brown’s actions.