Just like New York, the state of California last year lengthened the statute of limitations when it comes to sexual abuse. Before the law was passed, if you were molested as a child but only came to terms with the effects of that much later in life, there wasn’t much you could do about it. The new law allowed adults to file sexual abuse claims even if the abuse occurred decades earlier.
It was bad news for the Boy Scouts and Catholic Church.
The Sacramento Bee published a story yesterday about one of the victims now using the law to sue her alleged attacker, and the entire thing is sickening. The victim says her stepfather, John Bernard Black Sr., began molesting her when she was 11 years old. At the time, he was a pastor at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento.
The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court last month, alleges that Black molested and raped [Giana] Lee for years in her home, hotels, his car and inside the church. It also alleges that her mother did nothing to stop the abuse and that when Lee was taken to [Pastor Emeritus Ephraim] Williams for counseling at the church, he responded, “We don’t lie on good pastors!”
Lee is now 37. But it took decades to come to terms with the harm Williams and his allies caused. I won’t rehash all the sordid details here, but this particular passage tells you more than enough:
“It was a horrible and humiliating experience for Giana. Approximately a week later, Mr. Black forced his way into Giana’s room, grabbed her legs, forced the lower portion of her body on the edge of the bed and said, ‘tonight’s the night.’”
He then raped her, the lawsuit says, and between the ages of 13 and 15 the assaults occurred every other night.
Her own mother defended the stepfather’s actions and told Lee to lie about it to police. Williams gaslit her and told her to stop accusing Black of any wrongdoing.
The attacks only ended, Lee says, when she was kicked out of the home at 16½ and went to live with her grandmother.
Since then, Lee said, she has lived in humiliation and fear, and says what happened to her contributed to the collapse of her marriage.
”I have been married before, and this damaged it,” she said.
While allegations are not proof of guilt, the bigger story here is that it took a new law to even allow this lawsuit to be filed. The law now correctly recognizes that it may take a long time before victims of abuse fully understand their own trauma, and they shouldn’t be hindered from seeking justice because of an arbitrary quick deadline.
No lawsuit and no amount of money can erase a victim’s past, but at least now, her story is out there and Black can no longer hide from the allegations.