Friday, June 7, 2013

CA Sex Abuse Bill Ignores Largest Culprit--SB 131 Gives Pass to California Public Schools

Those wondering what Democratic supermajorities in the California Assembly and Senate will mean are finding out. In the June 7 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Valerie Schmalz reported on California’s Senate Bill 131. The bill was authored by Democratic State Senator Jim Beall, (Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s 2011 Legislator of the Year) and openly homosexual Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara. Mrs. Schmalz’s story began:

“The California state Senate narrowly approved a waiver of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse damage lawsuits – a bill that could have a devastating effect on nonprofits including Catholic Charities and Catholic schools while exempting public employers. The legislation, SB 131, would force private schools to defend claims that may be 40 years old but forbid victims from suing any public school for abuse that may have occurred before 2009, the California Council of Nonprofit Organizations said.

‘To add insult to injury, SB 131 even protects the actual abuser from being sued – the only claims that are revived are against private employers and nonprofit organizations,’ said Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference.”


On May 29, SB 131 passed a Senate floor vote with 21 “ayes” (20 Democrats, 1 Republican); 10 “noes” (9 Republicans, 1 Democrat); and 8 Senators not voting (7 Democrats, 1 Republican). It is now in the Assembly. The bill is opposed by a wide array of California educators, including the California Association of Private School Organizations, the state’s largest consortium of private schools, with one glaring exception. The exception is the group that educates 92% of California’s students, and which has employed by far the largest numbers of sexual abusers of minors in the state of California—California’s public schools. One might be tempted to applaud this as a uniquely virtuous and sacrificial act—Christlike, even-- until one remembers what Schmalz’s article noted: the public schools are specifically exempted from SB 131. This is incomprehensible, if one believes the purpose of SB 131 is the well-being of children. In a 2006 article in National Review Tom Hoopes wrote:

 “In accordance with a requirement of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, in 2002 the Department of Education carried out a study of sexual abuse in the school system. Hofstra University researcher Carol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church. ‘[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?’ she said. ‘The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.’”  

The same article noted: “As the National Catholic Register's reporter Wayne Laugesen points out, the federal report said 422,000 California public-school students would be victims before graduation — a number that dwarfs the state's entire Catholic-school enrollment of 143,000.” Emphasis added.

Since the bill would exempt the overwhelming majority of both victims and abusers, it can’t be about justice or the safety of children. Hence, one must look elsewhere for the authors’ motivations. And they are not hard to find. For the Democrats, the “Party of Death,” the purpose of the bill is clear: it appeases and strengthens their most powerful constituencies and it weakens their opposition.

By targeting private schools, it will force them to spend money, time, and energy defending themselves rather than educating children. This should please the California Teachers Association, by far the largest political spender in the state and largest donor to the California Democratic party. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission “The CTA alone has spent more money in California politics than Chevron, AT&T, Philip Morris and Western States Petroleum Association combined”—over $200,000,000 from 2000-2010. Yes, you read that right. The CTA hates private schools. Any drop in the quality of education offered by private schools makes the public schools look less bad by comparison, although it is hard to imagine anything short of a diving bell that could cause private schools to descend to the abysmal level of California’s public schools.

The bill should also please two of the Democrats other major constituencies: the abortion lobby and the homosexual lobby. As noted, the bill’s two authors are members of these lobbies: Jim Beall was Planned Parenthood’s 2011 “Legislator of the Year” and Ricardo Lara is an open homosexual activist. These groups hate the Catholic Church. By weakening Catholic and other religious schools, more children may be forced into the public schools where they can be indoctrinated—by the CTA. The upcoming lawsuits generated by SB 131 would also give these groups a ploy to undercut the moral voice of churches. When the Church offers principled moral arguments against homosexuality or abortion, the non-responsive response will be: “What about the abuse scandal?

Undoubtedly, the proponents of SB 131 will argue they are doing this for the “good of the children.” That is obviously false, and the obvious falseness may be why seven Senate Democrats refused to vote on the bill. How could SB 131 be for “the good of the children” when the overwhelming majority of minor victims of sexual abuse are or were in public schools—the victims and culprits specifically exempted from SB 131? Any law that pretends to have the welfare of victims at heart would not declare the vast majority of the cases to be off limits. That’s like being anti-tobacco and going after cigars or chewing tobacco but exempting cigarettes.

To find the contact information for members of the Assembly, go to assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the purpose of SB 131 is to seek justice for the victims of child sexual abuse who have not been able to have their day in court because the statute of limitations currently makes it impossible. I suggest finding a way to help these victims to be able to trust people again rather than guessing at the motivations behind the bill's authors.

josolomo said...

I am pretty sure the purpose of SB 131 is to seek justice for the victims of child sexual abuse who have not been able to have their day in court because the statute of limitations currently makes it impossible. I suggest finding a way to help these victims to be able to trust people again rather than guessing at the motivations behind the bill's authors.

Gibbons J. Cooney said...

I answered that point in the post. SB 131 deliberately prevents the overwhelming majority of victims from seeking justice: "Any law that pretends to have the welfare of victims at heart would not declare the vast majority of the cases to be off limits." Hence, an analysis of the motives of the bill's authors is in order.

Jim said...

What part of SB 131 excludes public schools?

A Shepherd's Voice said...

All of it, Jim.

Gibbons