Governor Signs Lorena Gonzalez Bill to Empower Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Under AB 218, Survivors Have More Time To Come Forward Against their Abuser

SACRAMENTO – (Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019) –Today Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation authored by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) that empowers survivors of childhood sexual abuse to confront their abuse by providing more time to come forward.

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said.“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. We shouldn’t be telling victims their time is up when in reality we need them to come forward to protect the community from future abuse.”

Short statutes of limitation have kept survivors of childhood sexual assault out of the legal system by setting an arbitrary deadline for pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit. Survivors often need decades to come forward. This is why in 2007, the legislature in Delaware completely removed the civil statute of limitations for claims of childhood sexual abuse. Maine, Utah, and Guam have also completely abolished a statute of limitations for these types of claims. Under Assembly Bill 218, California joins these states by allowing survivors additional time after their abuse to come forward to file a civil complaint.

Before AB 218, a survivor must file a lawsuit within eight years of reaching adulthood or within three years of the date a survivor who has reached adulthood “discovers or reasonably should have discovered” they suffered damages as a result of the assault, whichever comes later. AB 218 expands both the statute of limitations for the time given to victims of childhood sexual assault, from age 26 to age 40, and the period for delayed reasonable discovery from three to five years.

The measure also allows for a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations. In cases where a child becomes a victim of sexual assault as the result of an effort to cover up past assaults, AB 218 will allow a court to award recovery of up to treble damages from the defendant who engaged in the cover up.

For press questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.