by Irvin Muchnick
One of the most important deadlines for the USA Swimming’s day of reckoning for a generation of unchecked and covered-up sexual abuse by coaches is October 13. That is the date by which Governor Jerry Brown must decide on SB 131, which was recently passed by the state legislature in order to enable a cluster of civil lawsuits on claims of sexual abuse, which were previously barred by the statute of limitations.
As we reported at the time, the California Assembly passed SB 131 on September 4 despite the robust and expensive lobbying efforts of both USA Swimming and the Catholic Church — the two institutions with far and away the most vulnerability to such future litigation.
A conference committee quickly resolved minor differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the bill, and it was enrolled nd presented to the governor on the 11th. The law would take effect January 1, 2014, reopening to the courts several important claims against USA Swimming, at least one of which has major political ramifications.
Governor Brown hasn’t yet tipped his hand on whether he will sign the bill. An ex-seminarian, he has loyalty to the Catholic Church. Some observers believe he might let SB 131 pass into law by default, without his signature, which would give him some distance from it without vetoing it.
I’m sure U.S. Congressman George Miller of California’s 11th District, who as ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has begun investigating sex abuse in swimming, is watching this development in his home state with great interest.