Being sexually abused as a child can be a traumatic event that takes time – maybe even years or decades – to process and come to terms with what happened. In some cases, individuals might not even understand what occurred until they are older. Because of this, California extended the statute of limitations on filing childhood sexual abuse charges to allow more victims to report cases of abuse on their own terms.
Learn more about the new statute of limitations of childhood sexual abuse cases as of Jan. 1, 2020, and how these will impact victims and their predators.
Details of the New Statute of Limitations
Before the new statute of limitations took effect last year, childhood sexual assault victims could only file charges against perpetrators until they turned 26 years old. However, the new law now allows victims to file civil claims until they are 40 years old.
Survivors must file their claims within five years of concluding that the abuse caused long-term psychological damage. This should let more individuals come forward to file civil claims against their abusers.
Victims have a three-year window from January 2020 to file civil claims that could not be filed under the previous laws.
Civil Charges Against Individuals and Organizations
Victims of childhood sexual assault can file civil lawsuits against both the individual who abused them, as well as organizations – or third parties – that contributed to the abuse or allowed it to take place.
To file civil charges against an organization, the victim will need to demonstrate that the third-party group owed a duty of care to protect the child and that the organization’s negligence contributed to the abuse.
Some potential organizations this can affect are schools, youth clubs, churches, sports organizations, or even individuals who knew about the abuse and failed to report it, stop it, or possibly even helped cover it up.
As a result of these changes in the statute of limitations, more childhood sexual assault civil cases may be filed. This can help give young victims the time they need to process what happened to them and find the courage to come forward and file civil suits. It can also help empower victims to stand up to their abusers in a timeline that is more comfortable for them.
Attorneys Noreen Evans and Deirdre Kingsbury understand the trauma of reporting childhood sexual abuse and the importance of holding abusers accountable so that it doesn’t happen again. If you were the victim of childhood sexual assault, you have more options to file a civil suit against your perpetrator. At Evans Kingsbury LLP, we are lawyers with decades of experience in family law, appeals, and personal injury. Call us today at (707) 596-6090 or fill out our easy contact form to discuss your situation.