Elder woman sits calmly on a benchElder woman sits calmly on a bench
A new law eliminates the statute of limitations for cases involving child sexual abuse
By Jessica pride
December 15, 2023

Update: California Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations Eliminated

California recently signed a new law that eliminates the statute of limitations for people to file a lawsuit for child sexual assault allegations. Read on to learn more about this important update. 

A new California law was recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that eliminates the statute of limitations for lawsuits involving child sexual assault. The new law applies only to sexual assaults that occur on or after Jan. 1, 2024, when the law took effect.

However, the law removes what advocates consider to be an unfair filing deadline that current California law places on child sexual abuse survivors. In many instances, survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience long-term effects from the abuse and may delay in reporting the abuse until much later in life. Many don’t think they will be heard or believed, or they may be too ashamed or embarrassed to come forth initially and speak out. 

Thus, this new law will help accommodate those who have been affected by child sexual abuse and seek to pursue legal action. If you or your loved ones have any questions about these changes or any other sexual abuse laws, contact us at (619) 516-8166 for a confidential consultation to discuss your options. 

For more information regarding these changes to California sexual abuse law, read on. 

"California's move to eliminate the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse is monumental. It is a resounding ‘I believe you and I hear you.’ The legislature appreciates that most survivors are embarrassed to come forward and it takes them decades to find the courage to speak their truth. Now survivors won’t be time-barred by their trauma in their pursuit to hold their perpetrators accountable." - Attorney Jessica Pride

Background on the California Child Sexual Abuse Statue of Limitations Update

The bill was introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Assembly Member Dawn Addis, D-Morro Bay, and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsome in October of 2023. It took effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

The initial version of the bill would have eliminated filing deadlines for child sexual abuse lawsuits entirely, regardless of the date of the alleged abuse. However, the approved version of the bill applies to cases that happen after the effective date. 

Previously in 2019, California had already expanded the filing requirements for adults suing due to child sexual abuse. That year, a bill was passed that allowed people to file such lawsuits up until age 40, compared with the prior deadline of age 26, and provided a temporary “lookback” window that began in 2020. 

Ultimately, the current bill in question was amended to apply only to future cases of abuse. However, as mentioned, this is a step in the right direction — supporters argue that the new law will also serve as a deterrent to organizations and institutions like schools, and will incentivize them to respond promptly when allegations of sexual abuse are raised.

Many survivors of child sexual abuse may not disclose what happened to them until they are well into their 40s or 50s. Discussing these matters requires the special attention and care of a lawyer who handles these specific types of issues. Contact us at (619) 516-8166 if you have any questions about filing deadlines or any other legal requirements. 

California Child Sex Abuse Laws and “Delayed Disclosure”

The new law addresses a phenomenon in survivors of child sexual abuse called “delayed disclosure” — that is, survivors often do not report or disclose what happened to them immediately or right away. 

Delayed disclosure can happen for a number of reasons, including long-term feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear on the part of the survivor. Young minors may especially feel ashamed to tell others, or they may fear negative consequences or repercussions if they speak out. They may also experience confusion about the legal system and what it means to file a lawsuit. 

This means that the survivors of child sexual abuse often don’t make a disclosure or file a report until much later in life, if at all. A recent investigation into California schools reviewed more than 50 sexual assault lawsuits filed by survivors. The investigation showed that the average age of the individual pursuing a lawsuit was around 49 years old. 

Furthermore, rather than happening in a single moment, the disclosure process can happen in parts over time and may take decades to come to full fruition. Thus, this new law provides a much more reasonable approach to sexual abuse litigation — one that takes into account the nuanced emotions and behavioral patterns that survivors experience. 

How a Lawyer Can Help With California Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit Laws

One of the barriers to disclosure is a sense of apprehension and confusion regarding the child sex abuse laws and what the process entails. Survivors may not know where to begin, or might not know whether they are eligible to pursue a lawsuit for what happened to them. They may also be intimidated by the legal process or by the thought of meeting with a lawyer about their case.

At The Pride Law Firm, we understand the difficulties that survivors of child sex abuse face. We strive to create an environment for our clients that is:

  • Supportive: We truly understand the devastating effects of abuse and do all we can to build up and support the client with self-care resources and the services of an in-house survivor advocate
  • Confidential and private: We maintain absolute confidentiality and respect our clients' communications, knowing that we are dealing with matters of a most delicate nature. 
  • Safe: We provide a secure space where the client feels safe, protected, and free from judgment. 
  • Empowering: We aim to give a voice to those who feel silenced and to help survivors regain their sense of dignity and self-worth. 

Our legal team understands the situations and circumstances survivors may be in, and we are specifically trained to help guide them through the legal process in the most caring way possible. We have dedicated our careers to this, and our aim is to uplift our communities and protect their safety and well-being. 

Contact a California Child Sex Abuse Lawyer

We welcome the new changes that the updated filing laws will bring about in 2024 and beyond. We see these changes as a recognition of the distinct challenges faced by survivors of sexual assault and abuse. 

Our team is on hand to help answer any questions, listen to your story, and provide guidance along the way. Discussing these matters is no small feat, and we acknowledge those who have the courage to reach out for assistance. 

If you or a loved one have been impacted in any way by child sexual abuse issues, contact us at (619) 516-8166. We can set up a discreet, confidential consultation where we can review your legal rights and options moving forward.

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