The archbishops of Los Angeles and San Francisco are joining in contesting it: Several Catholic bishops in the U.S. state of California are taking action against a law that extends the statute of limitations in sexual violence cases by decades.
In lawsuits filed in state courts in southern and northern California, bishops ask state to throw out law that took effect in January 2020. Under it, abuse victims can file civil lawsuits until they reach 40. Submit a claim before they reach the age of 18, or up to five years after they become aware of the crime they have suffered. Before the so-called "Assembly Bill 218" came into force, civil claims by victims were only possible up to age 26.
The bishops say the law is unlawful, arguing that during the long statute of limitations, "witnesses may have died, memories faded and documents lost". This impairs the ability of defendants to defend themselves.
More than one billion US dollars in compensation
The law is being challenged by Los Angeles and San Francisco Archbishops Jose Gomez and Salvatore Cordileone, and seven other bishops. The dioceses of San Diego and San Bernardino did not join the request. California's Catholic dioceses have now paid more than $1 billion in compensation to abuse victims.