Catholic bishops ask U.S. Supreme Court to review California sexual abuse law

Could California end up in another dispute with the US Supreme Court?

Nine Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in California have asked the nation’s highest court to reconsider their case against a law of 2019 signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who created a three-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits against alleged perpetrators at school, church or elsewhere, regardless when the alleged abuse occurred. The law also allowed defendants to be prosecuted for a new offence: the activity of “concealment”.

In the Petition of April 15what was first reported last week by the Catholic News Agencylawyers for the Catholic bishops say the law is unconstitutional because California already gave victims the option to sue in 2002 – when it opened a year-long portal for victims of sexual abuse to file complaints claims without time limit – and because it retroactively adds new Liabilities.

  • The lawyers wrote: ‘Review is essential now, before the Catholic Church in the largest state in the union was forced to litigate hundreds or thousands of cases seeking potentially billions of dollars in retroactive punitive damages under an unconstitutional dual revival regime.
  • They added that their customers have already paid more than $1.2 billion to resolve claims filed during the initial one-year window, and “to fund these settlements they have spent significant resources, sold vast expanses of Church property and, in some cases, depleted or discontinued insurance coverage for past and future abuse claims.
  • Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests Slams Bishops’ Petition“The 2002 window lasted a year, barely enough time for the victims to regain their courage or their voice. Many did not hear of the window or found their courage too late. This new three-year window gives survivors in dire condition time to speak out, get help, and come forward. We believe it is this bravery that frightens the Catholic bishops of California. »

Newsom’s office declined to comment: “We have nothing to add at this time,” Daniel Lopez, Newsom’s deputy director of communications, told me in an email.

But the petition, which arrived less than a month before Politico released a draft majority opinion from the United States Supreme Court showing that the judges are on the verge of overturning the federal constitutional right to abortion, could trigger the latest standoff between California and the High Court.

In other reproductive justice news: Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes dropped criminal charges against Adora Perez, whom he previously charged with manslaughter after she gave birth to a stillborn baby while on meth. “California law is clear: we don’t criminalize people for pregnancy loss,” Bonta said.

Cal Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media company explaining California policies and politics.

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