October 21, 2019

Californians Prepare to Sue Boy Scouts of America as New Law Opens

California Scouting Victims Have Renewed Chance at Justice


California may face an overwhelming number of lawsuits from sexual abuse victims across the state with the passing of a new law that alters previous statute of limitations. Hundreds of men claiming abuse by Boy Scouts of America leaders in California are among the many who have a renewed chance to seek justice against sexual predators.

Assembly Bill (AB 218), signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom last week, opens new opportunities for sexual abuse victims to pursue justice against alleged abusers in court. Experts anticipate that the opening of this law will result in a flood of sexual abuse lawsuits against institutions including the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, school districts, and youth organizations.

“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,” said Andrew Van Arsdale, a San Diego-based lawyer representing hundreds of former Boy Scouts through the movement Abused in Scouting.  “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.”

With the signing of AB 218, Abused in Scouting, which represents over one hundred California Scouting abuse survivors, can now pursue action against the Boy Scouts of America and hold them accountable for alleged negligence in protecting children from sexual predators within the BSA.

Under previous law, child sex abuse survivors had until the age of 26 to file a lawsuit, or three years after discovery of injuries caused by abuse. Now, the new law raises the age limit to 40 years of age, or within five years of abuse discovery.

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” Gonzalez said in a statement after the signing of AB 218. “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.”

In addition to the raised age and discovery limit, AB 218 opens a three-year “lookback window” for sexual abuse survivors. During this three-year period, California’s statute of limitations on sexual assault are completely removed to give victims a second chance to seek compensation for their abuse.

This narrow time frame opens January 1, 2020 and ends January 1, 2023.

Click here to read the San Diego Union-Tribune’s full story on recent changes to California's statute of limitations on sexual assault.

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