Governor Newsom Signs Historic Law to Give Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault Access to Civil Justice
San Diego, CA: Assembly Bill 218, which was introduced in January by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome today. This historic legislation expands protections for childhood victims of sexual assault who are now adults giving these survivors the ability to file a civil lawsuit that was previously barred by California’s restrictive statute of limitations.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez told East County Today after she introduced this legislation, “The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous.” “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.”
AB 218 expands both the statute of limitations for the time given to victims of childhood sexual assault to age 40 or within five years of the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurred as a result of the sexual assault whichever is later. After enactment, the measure would also allow for a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations. The new law also allows a person who is sexually assaulted and proves it was as the result of a cover up to recover up to treble damages against a defendant who is found to have covered up the sexual assault of a minor. The law defines a “cover up” as a concerted effort to hide evidence relating to childhood sexual assault.
“With this law, adult survivors of childhood sexual assault can hold accountable those who were responsible for the horrific injuries they suffered as children,” said Irwin Zalkin, victim attorney. “We have represented hundreds of survivors over the last two decades to help them deal with the psychological impacts of abuse. AB 218 now gives those who were barred from the civil justice system in California a new hope for the future.”