The Most Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and President of the California Catholic Conference (CCC), released the following statement today following Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of SB 131 (Beall). The bill would have reopened the statute of limitations against private employers for child sex abuse for a period of 1 year, but would have forbidden lawsuits against public schools, other government agencies and the actual perpetrator of the abuse:
“We are grateful that Gov. Brown chose to veto SB 131. It was unfair to the vast majority of victims and unfair to all private and non-profit organizations.
“The fact SB 131 discriminated against victims clearly played a major role in prompting a veto, but at the same time, we hope the way the Catholic Church in California has responded to the abuse crisis over the last 10 years, and ‘walked the walk’ with respect to protecting young people and reporting allegations to law enforcement helped play a role, too.
“The Church’s reaction has gone way beyond settling more than 1,000 cases and paying $1.2 billion in settlements. It’s changed how we operate as a church. Millions of children and tens of thousands of church workers have received ‘Safe Environment’ training to learn how to keep children safe and spot potential abuse. Hundreds of thousands of workers and volunteers have been fingerprinted and background checked to screen them for red flags in their background. We continue to provide counseling to anyone who comes forward and we actively work with law enforcement to report allegations immediately and suspend anybody, clergy or otherwise, suspected of abuse.
“In the end, however, all we know for sure is that there can be no half-measures where victims are concerned and that the way SB 131 discriminated and treated victims unequally was impossible to morally or legally justify.”