New Life For Previously Barred Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases

California legislature has recently changed the law in a way that will allow many victims of sexual abuse, whose claims had expired, to now seek justice.
California Assembly Bill 218 signed into law October, 2019.
There are many reasons why victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, do not come forward and report the abuse at all or do so decades after the fact. Oftentimes, the abuser is a respected member of the community, and the victim feels that no one will believe that such a person could have done such a horrible thing. The perpetrator may have threatened the victim with severe repercussions if he or she were to tell anyone what happened. There are feelings of guilt and shame that often accompany sexual abuse and make coming forward incredibly difficult. With child victims, their parents are sometimes closely aligned with the perpetrator and cannot bring themselves to believe that the abuse occurred, so they don’t step in and act as advocates for their children.

Fortunately, the California legislature has recognized this problem and has recently changed the law in a way that will allow many victims, whose claims had expired, to now seek justice. Assembly Bill 218 amends Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1 in a number of ways, but the most important is that it creates a three-year window (from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022) in which a victim may bring a claim for childhood sexual assault, no matter when the abuse occurred, as long as he or she had not already pursued the claim and obtained a settlement or judgment. It is important to understand that “sexual assault,” as defined in this law, does not require an act of violence. It includes various criminal conduct involving sexual acts performed on children and non-consensual sexual acts performed on adults.

For victims who were sexually assaulted as adults, the statute of limitations is set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 340.16 and is the later of: (a) within 10 years from the date of the last act of sexual assault or (b) within 3 years of when the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury was caused by the sexual assault. Section 340.16 was enacted in 2018. Previously, sexual assault claims involving adult victims were governed by a two-year statute of limitations.

Since the Governor signed AB 218 in mid-October, we have been contacted by a number of victims of sexual assault seeking justice, and we strongly believe that there are many people with viable cases who can benefit from this new law.Booth & Koskoff has a long history of success in difficult sexual abuse cases. Last year we obtained what we believe to be the largest settlement ever in California for a single victim of sexual abuse.Contact us via email at or call 310-515-1361.

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