Earlier this October, Governor Gavin Newsome took the side of sexual assault survivors and advocates to sign Assembly Bill No. 218 into law. This is an incredible new piece of legislature and shows that this state is making true headway into allowing survivors of childhood sexual assault to find justice, peace, and financial reparations for their pain and suffering.
What to Know About Assembly Bill 218
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez authored this piece of legislation in order to extend the filing deadline for childhood sexual assault and abuse cases. Before this law, many victims were unable to bring charges against their assailants due to too short statute of limitations.
“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez wrote as the bill moved towards the Governor. “More and more, we’re hearing about people who were victims years ago but were not ready to come forward to tell their story until now. We shouldn’t be telling victims their time is up when in reality we need them to come forward to protect the community from future abuse.”
Extending the statute of limitation has been a major goal for advocates and one our law team has been working towards for many years now. We see so many survivors come into our California law firm devastated because they have been unable to take their abuser to court or have had to fight an uphill battle with an institution that has tried to hide such crimes. Before this recent bill, survivors were required to file a lawsuit within eight years of reaching adulthood or within three years of a date by which the adulthood survivor either “discovered or reasonably should have discovered” that they suffered damages due to an assault. It also limited certain actions to be brought forth following the survivor’s 26th birthday.
The changes this new law has made on the statute of limitations include:
- Expanding the definition of childhood sexual abuse to include ALL instances of childhood sexual assault so that those victims of past abuse who had claims that expired due to the statute of limitations now have a three-year window to pursue reparations.
- Creating a three-year window in which ALL claims of sexual assault can be brought in.
- Expanding the deadline for filing childhood sexual abuse and assault case from 26 years of age to 40 and from three years to five years of when the survivor should discover or reasonably should have discovered that they suffered damages.
- Allowing survivors to recover up to treble (or triple) damages in situations where there was an attempt to cover up their assault.
If you were the victim of childhood sexual assault, now is the time to come forward and make your abuser pay.
This is truly a historic piece of legislature that our team is incredibly excited about as it gives survivors greater opportunity to expose those who hurt them and the institutions or authority groups who tried to wash it away. The provision for a special three-year window for all victims is especially exciting as it opens wide a door that was previously shut for many, many Californias.
To learn more about this new piece of legislature and how it might apply to you or someone you know, contact us today.