LOS ANGELES — Most California Roman Catholic bishops are asking a judge to throw out a 2019 law that allowed accusers of clergy sexual abuse to sue even if they were molested decades ago.Motions filed this month in southern and northern superior courts ask judges to rule Assembly Bill 2018 unconstitutional. Among the arguments was the assertion that the amount of time that had passed could make it harder for the defense to gather evidence.
California is one of at least 15 states that have extended the window for people to sue institutions over long-ago abuse, leading to thousands of new cases.
California in 2019 provided a three-year period that began on Jan. 1 of last year permitting suits in cases that exceeded the statute of limitations. It also extended the age of people who could sue for childhood sexual abuse from 26 to 40 after the extension expires and allowed triple damages in cases where abuse resulted from a “cover-up” of previous assaults by an employee or volunteer.
About 100 cases have been or are expected to be filed since then but attorney John Manley, who has handled some of them, said there eventually could be 500 to 1,500 cases filed involving the church and thousands more involving other institutions such as school districts.