California State Assembly Bill 218, which has now received unanimous approval from the Assembly and Senate, offers a window of opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual assault to seek the justice they deserve. Under current state laws the statute of limitations prohibits victims from seeking damages after the age of 26 or after 3 years of first discovering the damage they have endured at the hands of an abuser. If Governor Newsom signs this landmark legislation, victims will be empowered to seek damages against their abusers and the institution in which they were sexually abused up until the age of 40 or within 5 years of first discovering the damages wrought by the abuse. In civil suits, adults who have discovered the damages of childhood abuse will now have a 5-year deadline as opposed to 3.
The bill also has a critical provision for prior victims of abuse who have been previously shut out of justice. The bill, if signed, will open a three-year window for cases that had previously expired under the current statute of limitations. This law will offer an incredible opportunity to the survivors of childhood abuse that have failed to be awarded compensation for the trauma inflicted upon them.
Changing the terminology in which we refer to these heinous crimes against children from “abuse” to “assault” magnifies the heinousness of these acts and places them in the appropriate category in the minds of the public and legislators. These are atrocious acts committed against the most vulnerable and vital segment of the population, children. Sowing seeds of discontent and despair in the surviving child for the rest of their life, especially in the cases where no justice is served against their tormentor. Cases of sexual violence and abuse against children warrant our most stringent attention to ensure survivors are afforded the opportunity to heal from the crime. Inspiring public awareness of the issue by the signing of this act into law will help to motivate our state as well as others in taking a stand against perpetrators and behind survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Please contact Paul Mones to find out your options if this law is passed.