Deadline looms for victims of child sex abuse by CA clergy members to step forward

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Deadline looms for CA clergy sex abuse victims to step forward
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Time is ticking for victims of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy members in California with a month left under state law to file a lawsuit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Time is ticking for any victims of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy members in California, as there's one month left to file a lawsuit under a recently-signed state law.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, McNevin says he's one of the hundreds of people in Northern California who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest.

"I think the abuse, it has a permanent impact on whoever is a victim. Your life changes the moment it happens," McNevin said.

But others, like McNevin, who may wish to come forward, are running out of time.

That's because a law passed by the California legislature back in 2019 is set to expire at the end of this year.

MORE: 14 California clergy members linked to Catholic church sex abuse scandal for 1st time

It's called AB218, and what it did was create a three-year period for the victims of childhood sexual abuse to come forward - even if their statute of limitations had ended.

"If a child was exposed to a sexual offender in an institutional environment like the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts or any youth serving organization, he or she has an once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring that claim," said Mike Reck, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates.

Those who come forward can remain anonymous.

The law also allows potential victims to sue both their individual offender and whatever organization they're a part of.

Earlier this year, a group of Catholic bishops unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law.

VIDEO: Survivor of priest sex abuse speaks out as new CA law leads to many lawsuits

In a statement sent to ABC7 News, the Archdiocese of San Francisco says it publishes the name of priests and deacons who are in good standing on its website.

It also reads, in part:

"The Archdiocese addresses allegations related to lawsuits through appropriate legal channels. Other than allegations that are facially not possible, investigations are initiated for any claims received. Any priest under investigation is prohibited from exercising public ministry in accordance with canon law as well as Archdiocesan and USCCB policies."

So as the clock ticks down, McNevin is encouraging others to come forward.

Reassuring them about the law and protections it provides them.

"It's been designed to create as little friction as possible by our lawmakers to permit victims to come forward," McNevin said.

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