Los Angeles Pastor's Sex Crimes Arrest Highlights California's AB 218 'Lookback Window'

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Los Angeles Pastor’s Sex Crimes Arrest Highlights California’s AB 218 ‘Lookback Window’

Los Angeles Pastor’s Sex Crimes Arrest Highlights California’s AB 218 ‘Lookback Window’

Aug 10, 2020

The head pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles has been arrested for sex crimes against children. Following a six-month investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), pastor Jonathan Tsai was charged with four counts of Lewd Acts on a Child Under 14 years Old, one count of Oral Copulation of a Person Under 16, and one count of Sexual Penetration of a Person Under 16.

In January, the LASD received information from an anonymous survivor alleging Tsai sexually abused her beginning when she was 12. When the alleged abuse took place in 2000, the anonymous survivor and her family were members of what was then known as the Home of Christians Eastern Los Angeles Church. The survivor, now an adult, alleges the abuse continued for six years, up until she was 18. At the time of the alleged childhood sexual abuse, Tsai was a youth pastor.

The LASD has confirmed that two additional women have reported similar claims of sexual abuse by Tsai when they were minors. At the time of the alleged abuse, Tsai would have been 20 years old. Tsai reportedly serves as head pastor of Abundant Life Ministries, although the congregation’s website – Abundant Life Christian Church – currently lists John E. Tunstall as its senior pastor (with no mention of Tsai anywhere throughout the site).

Tsai was arrested at his home on July 21. He was temporarily held at the LASD’s Walnut Station on $1.4 million bail, but was eventually released on July 24. Tsai’s next court appearance is scheduled for August 26.

LASD detectives believe there may be additional survivors who have been abused by Tsai. Authorities are encouraging anyone with information to contact the Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273. Anonymous tips can can be submitted via 800-222-TIPS.

Additionally, police in West Covina are reportedly investigating Tsai for alleged sexual incidents that took place there.

This particular case of alleged childhood sexual abuse against pastor Jonathan Tsai highlights California Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), and the three-year “lookback window” element it provides for survivors. The reports of Tsai’s abuse come from survivors who are now adults, but were children at the time of the abuse. Under AB 218, the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse crimes is temporarily removed, allowing survivors to pursue a civil lawsuit seeking financial damages, regardless of how long ago the incident occurred.

What is AB 218?

AB 218 is a new law that officially took effect on January 1, 2020. It provides survivors of childhood sexual abuse extended time to file a civil lawsuit, ultimately increasing the statute of limitations (SOL) on child sexual abuse cases to 40 years of age, and temporarily removing the SOL entirely for three years under the law’s lookback window clause. While the temporary lookback window is in effect, survivors of childhood sexual abuse are eligible to file civil lawsuits for financial damages against their perpetrators, no matter when the crime occurred.

In other words, until the end of 2022, there is no statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse crimes that took place in California, and any survivor can file a claim.

AB 218 is, as DLG’s Founder, Samuel Dordulian, said, like a “time machine” that helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse obtain justice. It is a truly unprecedented opportunity that offers survivors who would have otherwise been barred from bringing a claim against their attackers a new (but limited) chance at justice. Given the law’s limited lookback window clause – which expires on January 1, 2023 – it is imperative that survivors act now to file a claim and begin the process of pursuing a civil lawsuit for financial damages today. Once the lookback window closes, the statute of limitations resumes, and many survivors will be unable to seek legal recourse.

Don’t let the lookback window expire and allow perpetrators the opportunity to evade justice. Under AB 218, the temporary statute of limitations removal means that sex offenders have nowhere to hide. Let us help you secure justice, and punish your attacker to the fullest extent of the law.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

AB 218 Child Sex Abuse Revival Window Deadline

California AB 218, the landmark legislation which took effect in 2020, allows ALL survivors of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to file a civil claim and obtain justice through financial compensation — regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. But AB 218’s three-year loopback window officially expires at the end of 2022, and survivors who haven’t filed a claim before that time will likely left without any future legal recourse. To speak with a child sexual abuse lawyer, contact us today at 818-322-4056.

What Does AB 218 Do For Survivors?

AB 218 is a law intended to provide survivors of childhood sexual abuse that occurred long ago a newfound opportunity at justice. Moreover, it’s a law that is meant to provide all survivors more time to file a lawsuit by extending the age cap on claims from 26 to 40.

In short, here’s a summary the main aspects of AB 218 that survivors should know:

  • If you are 40 years of age or younger and are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you are eligible to file a lawsuit for financial damages, regardless of when the crime occurred.
  • If you are over age 40, you may still file a claim during the three-year “lookback window,” which began on January 1, 2020. This means that if the previous statute of limitations barred you from filing a lawsuit, that statute is now temporarily removed, and you can file a claim. Essentially, from 2020 to 2022, the statute of limitations is eliminated, and you are eligible to file a claim for financial damages.
  • As an adult at any age, you may bring a claim within five years of the date you discover (or reasonably should have discovered) that a psychological injury or illness (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) was caused by the childhood sexual assault.

Additionally, AB 218 provides a “treble damages” clause for survivors who are victims of abuse cover-up (whether by an individual or an institution).

What Are Treble Damages Under AB 218?

Treble damages‘ is a legal term referring to the ability for a court to triple the amount of actual or compensatory damages awarded to plaintiff (the survivor). In the example of AB 218, treble damages can be applied in cases where a cover-up of childhood sexual abuse took place. In such cases, prevailing survivors could be awarded triple damages (i.e. if you were awarded $20 million for your childhood sexual abuse case, you would actually be awarded $60 million under treble damages if a cover-up is proven).

The treble damages clause under AB 218 is meant to severely punish individuals and institutions that participated in a cover-up of sexual abuse. A cover-up of any kind allows heinous crimes to proliferate unchecked, leading to the widespread, systemic culture of abuse that we’ve seen throughout institutions such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America Organization.

The Long-Term Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse

If the allegations against pastor Jonathan Tsai are proven in a court of law, and there was a cover-up by either Tsai or the church, survivors could be eligible to collect treble damages, where the sum total awarded to each plaintiff is tripled.

I’m a Survivor – How Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Abuser?

If you are a survivor of any type of sexual abuse, contact the DLG SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) today. With DLG, you are represented by a team of dedicated and experienced professionals, rather than simply a single attorney. Only DLG provides survivors with four-tiers of representation:

  1. Case Lead: Samuel Dordulian, former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County
  2. Investigation Lead: Detective Moses Castillo, former 30-year LAPD sex crimes unit leader in the city’s elite Juvenile Division for Abused Children and Robbery-Homicide Division
  3. Support Lead: A licensed clinical therapist with 15 years of experience helping sexual abuse survivors
  4. Advocate Lead: Two in-house, licensed, and nationally accredited victim advocates who have decades of experience passionately advocating on behalf of survivors

The DLG SAJE Team is here for you 24/7. We are committed to fiercely advocating for every one of our clients, and we will fight for you to secure the justice you deserve and recover the largest possible financial damages award the law allows. Call us today at 800-880-7777, or contact us online to arrange a free, no obligation, and completely confidential consultation. An experienced Los Angeles sexual abuse lawyer will explain your rights under the law and answer any questions you have.

How Can I Lean More About AB 218?

To learn more about AB 218, visit DLG’s YouTube Channel, which provides detailed information regarding how the law helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse obtain justice and recover the financial damages they deserve.

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