Asm Nancy Skinner

ASSEMBLY | For Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner Wednesday’s floor discussion was personal. A bill that would allow a one-year window for adults sexually abused as children to sue the private and non-profit entities for allowing it to occur narrowly passed the Assembly, but only after three attempts. But, in riveting testimony, Skinner publicly counted herself as one of the abused.

“I am now pleading on behalf of the victims,” Skinner said before pausing, “myself as one, family members and I ask that you do the right thing and make this correction.”

The bill, SB 131, authored by South Bay State Sen. Jim Beall reopens the statute of limitations for those sexually abused by employees of private and non-profit organization to sue, provided they were 26-years-old or older at the time a similar law was passed in 2002. The Catholic Church, Boy Scouts and USA Swimming, among others who have faced allegations of sexually abuse among their ranks, ferociously opposed the bill.

Skinner said there is no way to predict when or if a victim will choose to face the fallout from the sexually assault. “We cannot put a timeline on what triggers our ability to deal with an experience we had as a child,” she said. It is not a thing that we forget. If you ask any victim, it is not a repressed memory, it’s just, we don’t want to deal with it. It’s not pleasant and talking about it publicly is not pleasant.” Her own trigger occurred when her daughter turned the same age Skinner was abused. After three years of therapy, Skinner said, was she better able to cope.

Skinner’s public acknowledgement of her own battle with childhood sexual abuse may be the most courageous of any Bay Area public official since Rep. Jackie Speier described in a House floor speech in 2011 in favor of funding Planned Parenthood, the shame, depression and resolve she felt after undergoing an abortion.

SB 131 now heads to the State Senate for consideration within in the next week.