April 27, 2006

Ban sought on secret settlements

Ventura County Star

By Timm Herdt, therdt@VenturaCountyStar.com
April 27, 2006

SACRAMENTO Oxnard Police detective Manuel Vega, who as a boy was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, has both a personal and professional interest in tracking down sex offenders and uncovering their dark secrets.

"It's always difficult to get the truth out," he said. "These perpetrators thrive on secrecy."

Vega was at the state Capitol this week to testify on behalf of a proposed law that would eliminate secret settlements of civil lawsuits brought by victims against sexual predators. When such lawsuits are settled out of court, typically plaintiffs must agree not to discuss the case, as part of the terms of the settlement, and evidence they have gathered is destroyed.

Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, proposes to ban such secret settlements. The bill would require that records be filed with the court and opened to the public when lawsuits alleging sexual molestation are settled.

Posted by kshaw at April 27, 2006 06:36 AM