Making the news recently is California Senate Bill 131, which seeks to open up a one year "window" in 2014 allowing anyone over the age of 26 to sue the Catholic Church for damages stemming from clergy sex abuse. Suits would be allowed even if the alleged activity took place many decades ago and even if the accused abuser is long ago deceased, thus making it nearly impossible for the Church to effectively defend itself in court.
Sound familiar? It should. California enacted the exact same measure a decade ago, which led to the Catholic Church in California paying out $1.2 billion in settlements because of the "window" year of 2003 determined by the state legislature.
Indeed, it was implicit a decade ago that California's temporary lifting of the statute of limitations was a one-time event that would give people who were abused decades ago a unique opportunity to come forward and collect damages. Yet cash-hungry contingency lawyers are at it again for a second round.
The real beneficiaries of SB 131Yet a recent article about SB 131 in the Los Angeles Times by Ashley Powers, like other media coverage about the unfair bill, makes no mention at all of the Church-suing contingency lawyers who stand to score humongous settlements yet again if SB 131 passes.
After the record $660 million settlement in Los Angeles in 2007 (which was a direct result of the 2003 window), the jubilation among contingency lawyers was to the point that their celebration "looked like a frat party" with some lawyers "even chest bumping," according to one victim who witnessed the surreal scene.
Indeed, the notorious Church-suing lawyer Jeff Anderson, who funnels tens of thousands of dollars annually to the anti-Catholic group SNAP, has already set up a web site (along with Facebook and Twitter accounts) as a way to attract more clients in the event that SB 131 is passed.
Yet mainstream journalists like Powers go to great lengths to portray the Church's efforts opposing the outrageous bill as somehow nefarious and sinister. Meanwhile, they ignore the efforts of contingency lawyers like Anderson, who stand to bank millions if SB 131 is enacted.
Ignoring the elephant in the roomJust in a recent 15 month period, 600 teachers have either been fired, have resigned, or have been administratively "housed" due to allegations of serious "inappropriate conduct," much of it involving sickening child sex abuse, in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
And only months ago, LAUSD paid out $30 million dollars in settlements stemming from just some of the 189 abuse claims at only one elementary school.
Yet public schools are completely exempt from the wrath of SB 131, and the proposed law does nothing for those who were sexually abused years ago in California's public schools. Nothing.
In other words, SB 131 is a bill that sets one standard for the Catholic Church and another standard (nothing) for everyone else.
Yet while Powers makes a passing mention to the fact that public schools are exempt from SB 131, she makes absolutely no mention of the rampant abuse in Los Angeles schools going on today.
The bigotry and double standard are glaring, but apparently not to Powers and just about everyone else in the mainstream media.
Zealotry against the Church
A decade ago, contingency lawyers and anti-Catholic zealots surely thought that the 2003 window would lead to the bankruptcy and eradication of many dioceses in California.
Yet the fact that not all dioceses have been bankrupted is what seems to bother those who want to see the passage of the unfair SB 131 the most.
[We urge California readers to contact their local state representatives and ask them to vote "NO" on SB 131.]
[See also this excellent analysis of SB 131 by UCLA law professor Dr. Stephen M. Bainbridge.]