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| Saunders and Walker

The administrators of the Independent Compensation Program (ICP) in California have extended the deadline for survivors of Catholic priest sexual abuse to February 29, 2020.  The claims filing deadline is March 31, 2020.

Six of the twelve dioceses are part of the ICP.  They are the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of Fresno, Diocese of Orange, Diocese of Sacramento, Diocese of San Bernardino, and Diocese of San Diego.  The other six, including the Archdiocese of San Francisco chose not to participate in the program.  Of course, California abuse survivors may take advantage of the recently passed Child Victims’ Act which provides the following relief:

  • Opens a three year window, beginning January 1, 2020, for survivors of any age to pursue justice, no matter how old they are, when the abuse occurred, or if their abuser is alive or dead.
  • Expands the definition of childhood sexual abuse, which will now be recognized and referred to as childhood sexual assault.
  • Increases the time limit for commencing an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to the age of 40 or within 5 years of the date the survivor discovers that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of 18 was caused by sexual assault (whichever is later).

It is important to speak with a licensed California abuse lawyer in order to determine which course of legal action is right for you.

California has been at the epicenter of the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis which should come as no surprise since nearly 30% (10 million) of the state’s population identify as Catholic.  They belong to 1,073 parishes located in 12 (arch) dioceses. They are served by 3,620 priests, 24 bishops, and two Archbishops—one of whom is a retired Cardinal. As of December 2018 when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles updated its list of credibly accused priests and added an additional 54 names as an update to the 2004 Report to the People of God, which lists the names of priests who were either publicly or credibly accused of misconduct with minors. The new names brings the total on the list to 269 priests who have been linked with an abuse accusation from the 1930s through 2018.

Of the three priests who allegedly abused minors over the past decade, only two — Juan Cano and Jose Cuevas — were active in the Los Angeles archdiocese at the time of the alleged abuse. Jano, a pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Encino, was referred to authorities for investigation early this year. Cuevas, who served at St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Long Beach pleaded no contest to abuse in 2012.

In the third case, the archdiocese was informed by the Diocese of San Bernardino in 2016 of an alleged act of abuse that occurred with a minor in 2010 in San Bernardino involving Roberto Barco, an extern priest from Argentina. Barco, who was serving in Los Angeles in 2016 when the allegation arose, returned to his parish in Argentina that year, according to the archdiocese.

While the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest archdiocese in California and has the dubious distinction of listing the largest number of priests who abused children in the state, the other dioceses have had similarly troubling histories relative to their size.

The California Child Victims’ Act will lead to greater transparency and hopefully accountability for each of the dioceses in California.  If you or a loved one have been sexually abused by a Catholic priest in California, contact California attorney Joe Saunders for a free and confidential evaluation at 800-748-7115.

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