California Justice for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Bill Eliminates Time Limit for Lawsuits

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California Child Sexual Abuse: AB-452 Eliminates Statute of Limitations on Civil Claims

California Child Sexual Abuse: AB-452 Eliminates Statute of Limitations on Civil Claims

Oct 11, 2023

Legislation eliminating the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse civil lawsuits has been signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. California Assembly Bill 452 (AB-452) officially removes the time limit for child survivors of sexual abuse to file civil claims for financial compensation against individual perpetrators or liable entities.

California AB-452 was signed into law on Tuesday and will take effect on January 1, 2024. Although AB-452 only applies to child sexual abuse cases that occur after January 2024, it is widely viewed as landmark legislation which will afford countless survivors an opportunity for justice.

AB-452, also known as the Justice for Survivors Act, was jointly introduced by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).

“I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for his steadfast commitment to justice for survivors of child sexual assault,” Assemblymember Addis said Tuesday. “With the Governor’s signing of AB-452, California has removed cruel and arbitrary barriers to healing and justice. While there is much more work to do, California has taken a critical step forward in letting survivors know that their voices matter regardless of when they come forward.”

“With the shame and secrecy that surround most incidents of childhood sexual assault and abuse, it can take decades for many survivors to confront their experience,” Senator Skinner said after the bill was signed into law by Governor Newsom. “Processing trauma and painful memories is complex and can’t be put on a timetable. That’s why I was proud to co-author AB-452 with Assemblymember Addis to end California’s arbitrary time limit for when survivors of childhood sexual assault can seek justice in court. With Governor Newsom’s signing of AB-452, going forward, children who suffer abuse will have no time limit for when they can hold to account those who abuse them and those who aid or allow the abuse to happen or cover it up.”

Child sexual abuse attorney Sam Dordulian expressed his support for AB-452 in a February interview with The Daily Californian.

“It takes an extremely long time for children to be able to process what happened to them to be able to come out and tell their story,” Dordulian said. “If you put an arbitrary age like 40 or 26, or whatever age you pick, you are still going to limit a lot of people who are not ready to come forward and tell their story from ever getting justice.”

Dordulian also added that while AB-452 is a “great first step” in both helping and protecting survivors of childhood sex abuse, many misconceptions and stigmas persist.

“Justice is often a crucial piece missing from survivors’ stories,” Dordulian told The Daily Californian. “Survivors may go their entire life wondering if their experience was their fault and feeling as though they did something wrong. It is the validation from a judge, holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes, that significantly helps survivors emotionally and psychologically.”

After the Justice for Survivors Act was signed into law Tuesday, Dordulian reiterated the legislation’s significance while stressing the limitations which will leave some victims’ claims barred by the current statute of limitations.

There’s no question that this is a milestone in California law that will help countless survivors get the justice they deserve. But because the law is not retroactive, victims need to be aware of the current deadline for child sex crimes occurring before 2024 – for those cases, most survivors only have until their 40th birthday to file claims for damages,” Dordulian said.

Under California law, childhood sexual abuse cases which occurred before January 1, 2024 are bound to the following deadline:

  • Claims must be filed before the survivor’s 40th birthday (or within five years of the plaintiff discovering the impact of their experience via a mental health injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder).

California joins a number of other states that have enacted revival windows or eliminated the statute of limitations on child sex crimes entirely. In April, Maryland passed the Child Victims Act which ended the statute of limitations on childhood sex crimes lawsuits for damages.

Additional states which have passed child sex abuse reform legislation include:

  • Arkansas: February 1, 2022 through Jan. 31, 2024 – claims may be filed by child sex abuse victims against private and government organizations.
  • Colorado: January 1, 2022 through January 1, 2025 – claims may be filed by child sex abuse survivors who were harmed between 1960 and 2021 (against private organizations, governments, and individuals).
  • Louisiana: June 10, 2021 to June 14, 2024 – claims may be filed by child sex abuse survivors against any individual or entity.
  • Maine: As of February 14, 2023, claims may be filed indefinitely (statute of limitations removed).
  • Nevada: As of 2021, claims may be filed by all survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
  • New York: March 1, 2023 to March 1, 2025 – claims may be filed by victims of gender-motivated violence and child sex abuse.
  • Vermont: As of June 2019, claims may be filed indefinitely by survivors of child sexual abuse (the revival window remains open permanently for anyone abused by a private organization, individual, or government entity).

Additionally, the federal government proposed a bill in 2021 to remove the statute of limitations on child sexual assault. The legislation was officially passed in November 2022, allowing survivors of child sex abuse and human trafficking to sue for damages.

How Common is Child Sex Abuse in the United States?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe child sex abuse as:

A significant, but preventable public-health problem.

Current CDC child sex abuse statistics include:

  • One in four girls and approximately one in 13 boys will experience sexual abuse at some stage in their childhood.
  • 90% of all childhood sexual abuse occurs by a perpetrator who the victim knows.
  • In 2015, the total economic burden of child sex abuse in the United States was estimated at $9.3 billion (though this is likely to be an underestimation of the real impact due to the fact that this specific crime is significantly underreported).

The CDC also notes that experiencing child sexual abuse can lead to devastating effects or an “adverse childhood experience.”

According a recent CDC report, some of the more common health effects that may result from child sexual abuse include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Physical Injuries
  • Chronic diseases later in life such as obesity, cancer, and heart disease
  • Mental health issues (anxiety, etc.)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse (including opioid misuse)
  • Engaging in risky sexual behaviors
  • Increased risk of suicide or suicide attempts

According to the CDC, another outcome that is often associated with child sexual abuse is a higher risk of revictimization in a person’s lifetime. Recent studies have found that:

  • Women who have been sexually abused as children are significantly more likely to be sexually victimized in adulthood.
  • Children who have experienced sexual abuse are twice as likely to experience non-sexual intimate partner violence as adults.

Child sex abuse can impact victims from all backgrounds and occur in various scenarios.

Common Types of Child Sex Abuse

Child sex abuse can be committed by a relative, teacher, coach, etc. Some of the most common types of childhood sex abuse include:

  • School sexual abuse
  • Teacher sexual abuse
  • Coach sexual abuse
  • Clergy sexual abuse
  • Camp sexual abuse
  • Boy Scouts sexual abuse
  • Catholic Church sexual abuse
  • La Luz del Mundo Megachurch sexual abuse
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Doctor sexual abuse

If you’ve been victimized by a sexual predator, Dordulian Law Group is here to help. Our team of dedicated and aggressive California child sex abuse attorneys will fight tirelessly to secure justice and maximum financial compensation for your case.

Dordulian Law Group’s Child Sex Abuse Lawyers: Serving the California Community

California AB-452 impacts survivors who have been victimized not only by individuals but also by institutions which enabled this type of unspeakable crime.

When you contact Dordulian Law Group (DLG) about your child sex abuse case, you will be treated with the utmost respect, discretion, courtesy, and professionalism. Being represented by former sex crimes prosecutor Sam Dordulian and the DLG SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) means having a group of dedicated allies fighting in your corner and working to ensure that your perpetrator is brought to justice. At DLG, we sue the individuals who have harmed children as well as the powerful institutions with a history of ignoring abuse. We believe that no one is above law and will fight to secure the justice you deserve.

Contact our top-rated team of expert sexual abuse attorneys online or by phone today to pursue justice and secure a financial award for damages.

Contact Dordulian Law Group’s child sexual abuse lawyers about your California AB-452 civil claim by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM today.

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