Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Childhood abuse limitations + Sacramento-Ukraine connection + Camp Fire redevelopment

Dorothy Small settled with the Catholic Diocese after she was abused by a new priest at Woodland’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church in April 2014. Small and her attorney announced a $200,000 settlement, Tuesday, May 21, 2019 but warned others from taking the money as they feel it’s not enough to take care of them spiritually.
Dorothy Small settled with the Catholic Diocese after she was abused by a new priest at Woodland’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church in April 2014. Small and her attorney announced a $200,000 settlement, Tuesday, May 21, 2019 but warned others from taking the money as they feel it’s not enough to take care of them spiritually. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Top of the Tuesday morning to you, California!

POWER TO THE VICTIMS

Among one of the most celebrated bills Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Sunday was Assembly Bill 218, a law that will extend the statute of limitations for anyone who wants to report sexual assault experienced as a child.

Current law dictates that childhood sexual assault victims have until they’re 26 to report the abuse. AB 218 extends the age limit to 40, and also creates a three-year window of opportunity for victims to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers regardless of how long ago the alleged assault happened.

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” bill author and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said. “More and more, we’re hearing about people who were victims years ago but were not ready to come forward to tell their story until now. We shouldn’t be telling victims their time is up when in reality we need them to come forward to protect the community from future abuse.”

Opponents of the measure said AB 218 “exposes local public schools and others” and that it would be “impossible for employers to effectively defend against these claims when evidence is likely gone, witnesses have moved or passed away, and there has been a turnover of staff.”

The new law coincides with national efforts to shed light on systemic child abuse, with an increased focus on the Catholic church.

Several Catholic dioceses announced earlier this year that they were launching a compensation program for victims of sexual abuse by clergymembers. The financial payouts were seen as an alternative to litigation, which can be costly and unpredictable considering the unknown number of victims who have yet to come forward.

“The Catholic Church in California recognizes that they are facing an entirely new level of exposure and scrutiny,” said Joelle Casteix , founding member of the Zero Abuse Project. “The scope and scale of the abuse and cover-up will be catastrophic and embarrassing to the Church hierarchy. They will do anything to shortchange victims in their attempt to keep Church secrets away from the courthouse and public.”

Attorneys Joseph C. George and Maricar A. Pascual said they’re already prepared to take advantage of what the new law allows.

In a press release, the two Sacramento attorneys said they plan to announce a lawsuit at 11 a.m. against a priest who allegedly sexually assaulted their client in 1983 and 1984.

“A flood of new child sexual abuse and cover up lawsuits is expected soon across California,” the press statement read. “The case is one of many expected to be filed in the months ahead thanks to a brand-new state law that gives victims of even very old child sex crimes a chance to file civil lawsuits and hold perpetrators and their protectors accountable.”

THE CALIFORNIA CONNECTION

The FBI is investigating whether Sacramento-area marijuana business figures paid off public officials in exchange for “favorable treatment and license approvals,” The Sacramento Bee’s Sam Stanton reports.

Sources told Stanton about the investigation, a disclosure that came a day after Sacramento officials called for an investigation into the city’s dispensary licensing system. The officials, according to Stanton, are looking in to how one ownership group obtained eight dispensary permits, which is “far more” than other operators.

As if that’s not eyebrow-raising enough...

The Bee also reported on Sunday that one of Sacramento’s major marijuana dispensary owners has ties to a Ukrainian man who was indicted last week alongside associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Wow — Andrey Kukushkin was among four men indicted last week in an intricate plan to funnel foreign campaign donations to U.S. politicians and enter the legal pot business in Nevada and other states. Two of the defendants, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are associates of Giuliani and were reportedly helping him investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son.”

Kukushkin is a business partner of Garib Karapetyan, who has accumulated licenses for eight dispensaries in Sacramento with his associates.

“Karapetyan, who could not be reached for comment Sunday, has donated to various Sacramento politicians, including $2,000 to the 2016 campaign for Mayor Darrell Steinberg and another $1,000 from an organization which Karapetyan is listed as owning,” The Bee’s report noted.

Steinberg is donating that money, his spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said, out of “an abundance of caution.”

LOCAL SPAT

As the one-year anniversary of the deadly Camp Fire approaches, legislation to speed up new home construction in areas affected by the flames was signed by Newsom on Friday. Assembly Bill 430, written by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, will allow for the sidestepping of CEQA review so that redevelopment can proceed at a quicker pace.

“This action shows what we can do when we work together as a community, across party lines, working with all the stakeholders to provide much needed relief to those who have been devastated by the Camp Fire,” said Gallagher. “This legislation will give these cities an exemption from CEQA to fast track housing projects they had already planned for in their zoning and general plans.”

Notably missing from the new law? Chico.

The proposal only covers revitalization efforts for Biggs, Corning, Gridley, Live Oak, Orland, Oroville, Willows, and Yuba City.

Chico was originally included in the drafted legislation, but the city council asked to be removed from the bill in May, per the Chico Enterprise-Record.

The city had argued against what it considered to be a loss of local control.

“We moved ahead with eight other cities in the region who were very happy to have this tool,” Gallagher said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

October 15 — Assemblyman William Brough, R-Dana Point

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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