May 14, 2019

Bill Opens New Opportunities for California Sexual Abuse Victims

The enforcement of new legislation in California give sexual abuse victims hope to achieve justice and healing. On January 1, 2019, California state laws now implement the amendments proposed by Assembly Bill (AB) 1619.

This bill allows sexual abuse victims significantly more time to file a civil suit against their abusers than the previous statute of limitations offered. Authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman, AB 1619 opens an additional eight years for survivors to file a civil suit in response to a case of sexual abuse.

“As women and men across the country share their experiences of sexual assault – often years later – it is clear that significant time is needed to recover and overcome the many practical obstacles that prevent sexual assault survivors from civil recourse,” Berman said.

For years men and women in California were barred from suing their abusers, because the statute of limitations expired from them. Research shows that recovery from sexual assault takes years, and coming forward to report such traumatic abusecan be a difficult challenge for victims. By the time many sexual abuse victims feel emotionally and physically ready tome come forward, they ran out of time because of inflexible statute of limitations.

Considering this research and the sexual abuse scandals coming out of the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America, state legislatures realized the need to work towards change and progress for sexual abuse survivors. The California State Assembly passed AB 1619 unanimously September 29, 2018. California Governor Brown signed the bill into law October 2, 2018.

Now, the statute of limitations has been extended from two years to 10 years for victims of sexual assault to file a civil action against their abusers. Also, survivors who discover injury or illness cause by their sexual abuse have three years from thedate of discovery to file a civil case.

“In addition to the physical and emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault, survivors also face substantial expenses due to health care costs, lost wages, and legal fees” said Assemblymember Berman. “I am proud to have authored AB 1619, which extends the statute of limitations so that more sexual assault survivors can seek justice in civil court.”

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