California has led the way in changing its laws to allow victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault the time they need to seek justice from their abusers. Changes in California statutes of limitations for sexual abuse cases have opened the door for additional victims to file civil lawsuits for sexual assault claims and sexual abuse claims. The attorneys of the Thompson Law Office applaud the efforts of our legislators and Gov. Newsom in ensuring that victims of sexual assault are not victimized again by antiquated laws designed to prevent victims from seeking the justice they deserve.
We encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. Call 1-650-513-6111 to talk to a compassionate, knowledgeable member of our legal team. However, we encourage you to call now. Even with the extension of the statutes of limitations for sexual abuse cases in California, some deadlines still remain. Taking action now can give you the best chance of seeing your abuser brought to justice through the civil court system.
Because there have been several changes to the deadlines to file sexual abuse cases, our California sexual abuse attorney discusses several of these changes in this article.
Continue reading to learn more about:
- New deadlines for some former college students to file sexual assault claims against campus doctors.
- New deadlines for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits.
- Statute of Limitations for other claims of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
- Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse or sexual assault in children and adults.
- What should you do if you are a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse in California?
New Deadlines for Some Former College Students to File Sexual Assault Claims Against Campus Doctors
In response to the allegations of sexual abuse and other sex crimes against a physician at the University of Southern California (USC), Gov. Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1510 (AB 1510) on October 2, 2019. Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist at USC, is accused of various criminal sexual charges, including sexual penetration and sexual battery by fraud. He is also named in a class-action lawsuit that also includes USC. The bill gives victims additional time to decide whether to file individual civil lawsuits against the doctor and the university.
AB 1510 extends the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse for an additional year or up to December 31, 2020. The lawsuits must involve incidents that took place at a student health center between January 1, 1988, and January 1, 2017, and arise from the sexual assault or other inappropriate activity, communication, or contact by a physician at the student health center. The bill applies to claims of more than $250,000 in damages.
New Deadlines for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse to File Civil Lawsuits
Advocates for victims of childhood sexual abuse fought aggressively for the passage of Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). Gov. Newsom signed the bill into law on October 13, 2019. This bill has some of the most sweeping changes to the statutes of limitations for sexual abuse claims in California. In addition to expanding the deadline to file claims for childhood sexual abuse, AB 218 also expands the definition of sexual abuse, which is now referred to as childhood sexual assault. The new bill gives victims of childhood sexual abuse longer to file claims against their abusers, in addition to expanding the types of behaviors that will now be considered as childhood sexual assault.
Changes in the deadlines to file civil lawsuits for childhood sexual assault claims in California include:
- Victims now have until their 40th birthday to file civil lawsuits seeking compensation or damages related to childhood sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse.
- The bill provides for a five-year lookback period to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages for childhood sexual assault. Victims have five years from the time they knew or should have reasonable known an illness or injury was the result of childhood sexual abuse or assault.
- If a defendant attempted to conceal or cover up the sexual abuse, a judge could order defendants to pay the victim compensation equal to three times the total of actual damages.
- Victims of childhood sexual abuse may also seek compensation for damages from the organizations that permitted the sexual abuse to occur.
- AB 218 also has a lookback provision. Beginning January 1, 2020, survivors of childhood sexual assault have three years to file civil lawsuits seeking compensation for damages for claims that would have been barred by a prior statute of limitations.
Survivors of childhood sexual assault have been given a powerful tool that they needed as they seek to hold their abusers responsible for their actions and the damage they caused.
Statute of Limitations for Other Claims of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
Late last year, California extended the deadline to file claims for most sexual abuse and sexual assault claims. Gov. Newson signed Assembly Bill 1619 (AB 1619) into law on September 30, 2018. Under AB 1619, individuals have until the later of 10 years from the date of the last incident of sexual abuse or sexual assault OR three years from the date that the person reasonably discovers sexual assault was the cause of an injury or illness to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator.
This change in the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases in California was significant. The previous deadline for these cases was two years from the date of the assault. Survivors of sexual assault as adults now have more time to come forward and tell their stories. They have more time to gather evidence and file lawsuits to hold their abusers liable for the damages caused by sexual assault or sexual abuse.
AB 1619 does not apply to instances of childhood sexual abuse. The changes outlined above by AB 218 was intended to ensure that all individuals had the chance to seek justice for sexual assault, regardless of whether the abuse or assault took place when they were children or adults.
Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault in Children and Adults
Unwanted sexual contact of any type can have long-term consequences for victims. Some individuals repress the memory of sexual assault while others are tormented daily by the memories of the assault. Each person is unique; therefore, the signs and symptoms of sexual assault may be vastly different from person to person. Children often experience different symptoms when they are sexually abused than adults might experience.
Common signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in adults and children include:
- Physical injuries and pain
- Sexually transmitted infections and sexually transmitted diseases
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Constant fear and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Night terrors or nightmares
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
- Depression and other emotional disorders
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- Decreases in work performance or school performance
- Inability to initiate or maintain personal relationships
- Eating disorders and problems with sleep
- For children, bedwetting and/or mutilating of dolls or other toy figures
Therapy and counseling are important in the healing process for survivors. Experts and professionals understand how to help victims of sexual abuse overcome negative feelings, fear, and other consequences of sexual assault. In many cases, reaching out for help is the first step in a person’s journey to overcome the effects of sexual abuse.
If you suspect child sex abuse, you can report your suspicions to the California Department of Social Services. You can obtain additional information and free, confidential help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800)656-4673 or contact RAINN online. If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can also talk to your physician to arrange for help.
What Should You Do If You Are A Victim of Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse in California?
If you have been sexually assaulted or you suspect your child has been sexually assaulted, report the assault to the police immediately. You also need to see a physician as soon as possible for an examination. In some cases, a physician can obtain evidence of the sexual assault during an examination if the assault has just occurred. Even if the assault occurred in the past, you should still see your doctor to discuss a treatment plan for physical injuries or illnesses and a treatment for emotional and mental anguish and distress.
After seeking medical attention, we strongly urge you to contact our California sexual abuse attorney. Criminal charges for sexual crimes are separate from civil lawsuits. A person does not need to be found guilty of a crime to be liable for damages caused by sexual assault or sexual abuse. Even though law enforcement officers may decline to bring charges against your abuser, you may still have a valid legal claim against the abuser. An experienced California sexual assault attorney can explain your legal option and help you determine the best course of action for holding your abuser liable for damages.
Why Should I File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Assault in California?
Money cannot change what happened to you. There is not enough money to wipe away the pain and suffering caused by the criminal wrongdoing of another individual. However, filing a civil lawsuit allows you to have a voice. It allows you to confront your abuser in court and tell the world what that person did. It brings to light the criminal acts of a sexual predator so that others can be warned about what this person is capable of doing. It also places future employers on notice that this person has committed sexual crimes.
A civil lawsuit for sexual abuse also allows you to seek compensation from the abuser for your financial damages, physical pain, and emotional suffering. Medical bills, therapy bills, and loss of income can be substantial for a sexual abuse victim. Compensation from a civil lawsuit might not wipe away the pain and suffering, but it can help pay for much needed medical care and therapy. It can help replace the loss of income incurred because of debilitating conditions caused by sexual assault or sexual abuse.
Please Don’t Wait to Seek Help
Please seek help from a qualified health care provider if you have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused. Also, please seek help from a legal advocate who can protect your best interests and your legal rights.
Even though California has extended the deadlines for filing sexual assault claims, time to file lawsuits for sexual abuse is still limited. It is always best to seek legal advice as soon as you can regarding a civil claim for sexual assault.
Our California sexual assault attorneys are always available to discuss claims, including claims that occurred decades before today. The circumstances of your case might fall into one of the discovery phases for filing sexual assault lawsuits. An attorney can determine whether the statute of limitations might bar your claim.
Contact a California Sexual Abuse Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
The attorneys of the Thompson Law Office are experienced sexual abuse attorneys in California. We handle a variety of sexual assault cases, including sexual assault cases occurring in massage facilities, schools, and places of business.
We represent parents, children, and adult survivors. It is our goal to help survivors of sexual assault seek the justice they deserve after being violated in an unthinkable manner.
We want to hear your story. Please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a California sexual abuse attorney. Call 1-650-513-6111 to speak with a compassionate member of our legal team. Everything you say to our office is held in strict confidence.