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California Catholic bishops ask Supreme Courtroom to assessment case difficult statute of limitations

(RNS) — Catholic bishops in California have requested the U.S. Supreme Courtroom to assessment a case difficult a state legislation that expands the time survivors of childhood sexual assault should file their claims.

The petition, first reported this week by the Catholic News Agency, was filed April 15 by 9 California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses after the California Supreme Courtroom refused to think about the case — Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland v. Superior Courtroom of California of Los Angeles County — in November.

In 2002, California enacted a one-year window for plaintiffs to carry sexual-abuse claims in opposition to the Catholic Church and others “even when the statute of limitations had expired many a long time earlier than,” the bishops mentioned of their petition.

When that yr ended, the state tried to revive lapsed claims three extra instances, however former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed every invoice, the petition notes. However Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, signed laws in 2019 that allowed sure assault victims extra time to carry fits, which the bishops are calling “an unconstitutional double-revival regime.” 

“This time,” the bishops’ petition reads, “defendants’ previous conduct is topic not solely to claims for compensatory and punitive damages that have been beforehand time-barred twice over, but in addition to extra penalties (within the type of ‘treble’ damages) primarily based on a newly outlined class of ‘cowl up’ exercise.”

The Survivors Community of these Abused by Monks, or SNAP, lambasted the bishops’ petition in a statement Wednesday (Might 4).

“To try to invalidate this legislation by going across the lawmakers now could be at greatest disingenuous and can be a slap within the face to the hundreds of victims — not simply Catholic victims — in search of solace and justice,” SNAP mentioned within the assertion.

Map of California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses. Picture by way of CACatholic.org

The extension of the time window to carry circumstances, SNAP mentioned, was obligatory as a result of survivors abused within the Nineties and early 2000s “have but to comprehend the injury carried out to them and stay silent of their ache.”

However the dioceses declare that through the preliminary one-year window, they confronted greater than 1,000 lawsuits alleging misconduct relationship again to the Thirties and reached a collection of settlements price greater than a billion {dollars} “to carry these issues to an in depth,” in line with the petition.

“To finance these settlements, they expended vital sources, bought huge swaths of Church property, and in some circumstances exhausted or relinquished insurance coverage protection for previous and future abuse claims,” the petition mentioned.

“Evaluate is important now, earlier than the Catholic Church within the largest State within the union is pressured to litigate lots of or hundreds of circumstances in search of probably billions of {dollars} in retroactive punitive damages,” the bishops claimed.

The 9 dioceses and archdioceses listed within the petition are represented by: Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles; Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange; Bishop Joseph V. Brennan of Fresno; Bishop Daniel E. Garcia of Monterey; Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose; and Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Santa Rosa.

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