The following comes from a December 16 Mercury News article by Tracey Kaplan:
By the time Will Lynch was ready in the mid-1990s to report he’d been sexually abused as a child by a priest on a camping trip, there was nothing police could do about it. The abuse had happened about two decades earlier when he was 7, and the legal window then for bringing charges against the priest had closed by the time he reached 13.
Lynch and his brother sued and won a sizeable legal settlement from the diocese in 1998. And Lynch was able to expose his alleged assailant and draw statewide attention to the fact that child molesters can evade prosecution after he punched the priest in Los Gatos and was tried and acquitted three years ago by a sympathetic Santa Clara County jury. But it still grates on Lynch that a legal technicality allowed the priest to escape criminal prosecution.
Now, Lynch is working to change that. He’s been cleared by the secretary of state’s office to gather signatures for a ballot measure that would wipe out California’s criminal and civil statutes of limitations for sex crimes against children, a move already adopted by New York, Texas and Florida in criminal cases.
The initiative written by the 48-year-old San Francisco man would wipe out the legal deadline barring prosecutors from filing criminal charges against child molesters and victims from suing them after a certain period of time. It would apply only to children molested after its adoption, not to Lynch and others like him.
“It’s painfully clear that Legislature here won’t get it done,” Lynch said. “This is a human rights abuse, and there shouldn’t be a statute of limitations on human rights violations.”
To pull it off, Lynch faces an even bigger challenge — collecting 365,880 signatures by May 9 to qualify the measure for the November ballot. He has to raise about $1.5 million to pay signature gatherers, a sizeable hurdle considering there are 60 other proposed initiatives vying for financial backing, including measures to legalize marijuana and repeal the death penalty.
If Lynch succeeds, California would become the first state to put the issue directly before voters out of the 24 states that allow initiatives by petition.