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October 14, 2019

New California Law Gives Child Sexual Abuse Victims More Time to Sue Abusers

California Governor Law That Opens Three-Year “Lookback Window” For Sexual Abuse Survivors

California sexual abuse survivors get a second chance to pursue justice against their abusers. In a landmark press conference, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 218 into law on October 13.

This new law gives victims of childhood sexual abuse the legal right to sue abusers, affiliates, and/or institutions that enabled sexual abuse within their domains. The new law allows for survivors to pursue monetary compensation or “damages” for the abuse inflicted on them and the trauma endured from that abuse.

The previous statute of limitations only allowed abuse survivors until they were 26 to file a civil suit against abusers, or within three years of discovering abuse. Now, childhood sexual abuse survivors have until the age of 40, or five years from when they discover abuse, to file lawsuits against their alleged abuser(s).

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” said the AB 218’s author, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

In addition to the age extension, the new law opens a “lookback window” that completely removes the statute of limitations for three years. Within this new window of time, sexual abuse survivors in California have the opportunity to sue their abusers in civil court even if the old statute of limitations have expired for them.

The three-year lookback window begins January 1, 2020 and ends January 1, 2023 for California sexual abuse survivors.

California is one of two others to take steps this year in altering their statute of limitations. New York and New Jersey are the other two. New York opened a one-year lookback window for sexual abuse survivors, which led to hundreds of lawsuits being filed against the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Church, etc. 

Similar lawsuits are expected to be filed in California, as sexual abuse cases have been reported out of the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Churches, and other churches and institutions in California.

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