California has passed a new law extending the statute of limitations for cases of alleged childhood sexual abuse. This is incredibly important both for survivors of child sexual assault and for the protection of California’s children. Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, as of Jan. 1, 2020, adults have until at least their 40th birthday to file claims against people and institutions they seek to hold responsible for sexual molestation or sexual assault they experienced as children. See Code of Civil Procedure §340.1. Before this new law, survivors had until their 26th birthday to file suit.
The law also opens up a three-year window for the revival of any claims that would have been barred by the statute of limitations. In addition, the law provides for added penalties (treble damages) against employers or organizations that covered up childhood sexual abuse. As has been well documented with the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America, institutions have been criticized for moving predators around from one place to another to avoid accountability.
Data suggests that survivors of childhood sexual abuse often do not tell anyone about the abuse until they are well into their adulthood. Survivors can help protect today’s children by ensuring that what happened to them doesn’t happen to another child.
If the sexual assault happened after the victim’s 18th birthday, the time to file a lawsuit for sexual assault was extended last year to up to ten years after the assault or three years after the injury was discovered, whichever is later. See Code of Civil Procedure §340.16.
Haeggquist & Eck, LLP represents brave survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Contact us online or call us at (619) 342-8000 to speak with one of our attorneys.