California Passes the Child Victims Act

Victims of childhood sexual abuse will have more time to report allegations and file a lawsuit under a California law signed Sunday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The legislation was introduced following widespread allegations of abuse of minors by Catholic priests as well as the 2018 conviction of Larry Nassar, a former U.S. Olympic gymnastics team doctor, for molesting young athletes.

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the bill’s author. “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.”

Currently, survivors 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, whichever comes later.

Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 218 extends the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual assault from the time a victim is age 26 to age 40, and increases the period for delayed reasonable discovery from three to five years.

The bill also provides a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations. In addition, damages can be trebled in cases in which a child becomes a victim of sexual assault as the result of an effort to cover up past assaults, Gonzalez said.

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