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A New California Law Will Allow More Victims Of Childhood Sexual Abuse To Sue The Catholic Church

Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) regional director Joelle Castiex calling on Cardinal Roger Mahony not to attend the papal conclave, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. She herself was abused by a priest as a child.
Aaron Schrank
Joelle Castiex calling on Cardinal Roger Mahony not to attend the papal conclave on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013.

The Child Victims Act, signed by Governor Gavin Newson, gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time to file civil lawsuits. Before the law, they had until age 26. Now they have until age 40. The law also suspends the statute of limitations for a three-year window starting in January.  

"We know it takes survivors decades to come forward," said Joelle Casteix, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse who testified on behalf of the bill. "And by the time that they’re able to come forward and healed enough, their statute of limitation is expired."

California lawmakers suspended the statute of limitations for one year in 2003. Hundreds of people sued the Catholic Church then, and won payouts.