Assembly Bill 218 – Childhood Sexual Assault: Statute of Limitations
As of October 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 (AB-218) into law. AB-218 amended sections 340.1 and 1002 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and Section 905 of the Government Code, relating to childhood sexual assault and its current statute of limitations. Under previous law, an action for “recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse, as defined, be commenced within 8 years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring… was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurs later” (AB-218 Legislative Counsel’s Digest).
Okay, that was a lot of legal jargon. To clear it up a little, up until AB-218, childhood sexual assault plaintiffs had to make their claim within eight years of turning 18, or within 3 years of the date they discovered psychological damage caused by sexual abuse. AB-218 aims to change the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault from eight years to 22 years after the age of majority (18-years-old in the United States). To quote the bill itself:
“This bill would change that reference from childhood sexual abuse to childhood sexual assault, as defined, and it would remove the requirement that the conduct occurred on or after that specified date. The bill would also make a conforming change to the provision governing confidentiality provisions in childhood sexual abuse claims.” (AB-218, Legislative Counsel’s Digest)
Boy Scouts, The Catholic Church, and a Sordid History of Unmitigated Childhood Sexual Abuse
Up until the early 1990s, both the Boy Scouts of America and the Roman Catholic Church did little to nothing to curb their clear and obvious problems with childhood sexual abuse. Priests and scoutmasters got away with abuse for far too long. Thanks to AB-218, survivors of childhood abuse from those supposed adult role models and leaders will now be able to effectively seek true legal restitution for their pain and suffering.
“We’re trying to make our clients whole. There’s no amount of money you could pay these guys to make them go through what they went through again. This is at least a good faith effort to do everything in our power to heal that wound, close that circle and get them the help they need. There’s men in their 70s and 80s who still think about what happened to them as 10-, 11-year-old boys, every day.” – Andrew Van Arsdale, a San Diego-based attorney representing hundreds of former Boy Scouts
Additionally, AB-218 adds penalties against institutions that have historically covered up sexual abuse cases. Both the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America have a history of horrific sexual abuse. Hopefully, we’ll finally start to see some accountability for their actions under this new law.
Under AB-218, What Actions and Situations Are Considered Childhood Sexual Assault?
According to the bill itself, AB-218 amends Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure to encompass the following actions under the legal umbrella of childhood sexual abuse:
- An act committed against the plaintiff that occurred when the plaintiff was under 18 years of age
- Any action described by Section 266j, 285, 286, 288, 287, 288a, 289, or 311.4 of the Penal Code (you can find those sections here)
What Does AB-218 Mean for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
As unfortunate as it is, survivors of childhood sexual abuse often fail to tell anyone about their abuse until well into adulthood. Under the previous statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, several survivors were unable to come forward. This bill rectifies that.
This new bill is an all-important step up for survivors of childhood sexual assault. The bill extends the amount of time allowed for survivors to come forward against their attackers. Survivors up until age 40 can now seek legal action against their attackers. Previously, the maximum age allowed was 26.
Looking for Legal Help Regarding a Childhood Sexual Assault Case? Contact Cutter Law P.C.
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