If a California bill is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, swimming organizations and other institutions may be subject to new lawsuits involving childhood sex abuse.
Opposed by USA Swimming, Senate Bill 131 would expand the rights of some individuals to charge an organization for failing to disclose when a member or employee sexually abused them as a minor. Certain plaintiffs whose statute of limitations had expired would have a one-year window to file suit.
USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport, had hired a lobbying firm to combat the bill, citing its need to protect members’s interests and saying it wasn’t fair that the language didn’t include certain types of organizations. The move caused Internet bloggers and commenters to draw parallels between USA Swimming and the Catholic Church, which also fought the bill.
Considering the number of swim coaches being charged with sexual abuse and accusations that USA Swimming covered the alleged acts, some believe the organization is seeking to protect its interests over those of victims.
The bill’s opponents had an effect: As originally proposed, SB 131, authored by Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would have given alleged victims until they turned 48 years old to file. It was eventually weakened to its final form.
For more about the bill and USA Swimming’s position, read exclusive coverage from our sister publication Aquatics International here.