California Senate Targets Private Schools With Sex Abuse Bill

In a move clearly aimed at harming private schools, the California Senate has passed a bill to waive the statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits while exempting public schools.

The bill, SB 131, would make private organizations liable for incidents going back as far as 40 years, while preventing any lawsuits against public employers for events that occurred before 2009, according to the  California Council of Nonprofit Organizations.

It also prevents the actual abuser from being sued, but holds private and nonprofit employers responsible.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jim Beall and Ricardo Lara, passed by a Democratic majority and is on its way to the Democratic Assembly.

Public schools in California are responsible for educating about 92 percent of the state’s children. Studies have shown that public schools are also home to far more sexual abusers than are private schools. A federal report in 2006 predicted that more than 400,000 public school students in the state would be abused before graduation. That’s about three times the state’s total enrollment in Catholic schools.

The bill was opposed by the California Association of Educators, but it has been strongly supported by the California Teachers Association, the state’s public school educators organization and the biggest contributor to the Democratic Party.

It’s not the first time states have gone after private schools. The Catholic Church, in particular, is a favorite target, backed up by a media campaign that has run thousands of stories about sexual abuse allegations in church-run schools, while remaining almost silent on federal findings about rampant abuse in public schools.

The power of the teachers union has corrupted state politics for years and condemned generations of children to the same failed education techniques that have led to sky-high dropout rates. Homeschoolers and private schools are high on the teachers union’s enemies list.

The bill’s sponsors claim it is about protecting sexual abuse victims, but with the influence of the CTA clearly backing passage, protecting the children is the last thing on legislators’ minds.