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SB131.jpgA bill to extend the statute of limitations for some sex abuse victims narrowly passed the state Senate on Friday.

The vote was 21-8 in the 40-member house, the minimum required for passage. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, which was resurrected after failing last month amid fierce lobbying from the Catholic Church and others, would open a yearlong window for those excluded from a 2003 law that extended the time during which sexual abuse victims can file a civil lawsuit.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, punctuated the debate with moving testimony about his own struggles arising from the abuse he suffered from a member of his own family. Lara, who referred to himself as a "high-level survivor," said he knows many of his legislative colleagues have been pressured by the church not to support the bill.

Still, he urged them to support the measure on behalf of countless abused children, including those that have contemplated suicide.

"You never really forget," Lara said. "It's always in the back of your mind."

Opponents argued that the bill unfairly excludes public agencies, such as school districts, and instead only revives abuse claims against private institutions, such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts.

Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, said he wanted to support a measure that applies to both public and private victims. "This bill should be about protecting and bringing restitution to all victims not just one set versus another," he said.

Last month, Senate Bill 131 by Jim Beall, D-San Jose, came up three votes short in the Assembly Appropriations Committee after six of Beall's Democratic colleagues did not vote. Beall asked for and received reconsideration.

The measure passed, but opponents stepped up their efforts with a paid television advertising campaign.

PHOTO: A frame from a TV commercial aired by opponents of SB 131.


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