A survivor of sexual abuse sits and wonders, can you sue someone who molested you as a child in California?A survivor of sexual abuse sits and wonders, can you sue someone who molested you as a child in California?
It may still be possible to pursue justice against those who have harmed you.
By Jessica pride
Published on
October 13, 2023
Last Updated
May 31, 2024

Can You Charge Someone With Molestation Years Later in California?

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It is often extremely difficult to bring a lawsuit for sexual abuse that occurred many years ago. However, a recent change to California’s statute of limitations now offers survivors a meaningful chance to balance the scales of justice.

Sexual misconduct or abuse committed against a child is one of the most horrific acts. It is an extremely sensitive and complicated subject and legal matter. The team at The Pride Law Firm recognizes survivors’ incredible courage necessary to come forward and share their stories. Our team is committed to providing a safe space for you to share your experience. We will ensure that your matter is handled with the respect and dignity you deserve.

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Even if you experienced sexual abuse many years ago, it may still be possible to hold responsible parties accountable. Every survivor deserves to have their story heard. If you or someone you love has suffered childhood sexual abuse, contact The Pride Law Firm online or by calling (619) 516-8166. Our caring and compassionate associates can help you learn more about what legal options are available to you.

Can You File a Molestation Lawsuit Years Later?

The debate of can you charge someone with molestation years later in California is a nuanced one that requires an understanding of reforms in the state’s law.  

Under recent changes to the statute of limitations in California, it is now possible for survivors who experienced childhood sexual abuse to file a sexual misconduct lawsuit years after the actual incident occurred. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse now have the opportunity to pursue the justice they are entitled to.

Changes to California laws have modified the statute of limitations pertaining to childhood sexual assault survivors. California law now allows for adults to bring lawsuits for sexual abuse that occurred when they were under the age of 18. A survivor who may have suffered childhood sexual abuse can initiate a lawsuit until the later date of:

  • when they turn 40 years old, or
  • within 5 years of discovering that psychological injury or illness occurring after their 18th birthday was caused by the sexual abuse or assault.

Childhood trauma or childhood sexual abuse has the potential to cause long-term harm. Some effects may include depression, anxiety, mental health problems, substance abuse, or a lack of self-worth. This law is especially important because children or young adults are often reluctant to report the abuse they are experiencing. There are several reasons for this, including feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or not knowing that they are being abused until much later.

How Can a Sexual Misconduct Attorney Help Me?

Lawsuits for sexual misconduct and sexual abuse can be emotionally charged and incredibly complicated. Childhood sexual assault cases require extra care, time, and consideration. Not every lawyer will be equipped to handle sexual misconduct cases. 

Filing a lawsuit against the person or parties that harmed you may be both emotionally and financially draining. A sexual misconduct lawyer can help you pursue a claim for damages to help you recover your various losses and expenses associated with the incident

These damages may include compensation for:

  • Medical bills: This may include any medical bills you have accrued, including costs related to treatment and counseling.
  • Pain and suffering: This may include compensation for physical and emotional distress caused by the assault or reimbursement for psychological trauma you have experienced.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, survivors may seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the perpetrator for their misconduct and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. These damages are typically awarded when the defendant's actions are considered particularly malicious or intentional.

Initiating legal proceedings as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse may raise feelings of guilt, shame, and anger. The lawyers at The Pride Law Firm know that this may be a very difficult process and are here to help you by guiding you through the complicated legal process associated with bringing legal action.

Your attorney will handle important court filings, meet court deadlines, and negotiate with opposing counsel. When you are ready, a sexual misconduct attorney can help guide you through the legal process.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual trauma, you may feel complicated emotions about pursuing a lawsuit for sexual misconduct many years after the event occurred. Talking to a compassionate attorney who specializes in litigating sexual assault cases can help you determine if a lawsuit is the right choice for you. Contact Jessica Pride and the experienced associates at The Pride Law Firm online or by calling (619) 516-8166.

How Long After Being Sexually Assaulted Can You Press Charges in California?

Under normal circumstances, the statute of limitations will determine when you are legally allowed to pursue a case. Statutes of limitations are laws that set a specific time frame within which a legal action must be initiated. After that timeframe has expired, you are usually barred from filing legal action. 

For some, the statute of limitations has prevented them from pursuing legal action against the person who abused them when they were a child or a young adult

What Is California Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations?

Unraveling the state’s statute of limitations for sexual assault cases is essential to answering the question: can you sue someone who molested you as a child in California? 

Childhood victims of sexual assault now have until their 40th birthday, or within 5 years of the discovery of the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit. The law also allows for a five-year window to revive certain claims that the statute of limitations would have barred.

Sexual assault and abuse claims, otherwise prohibited by the statute of limitations, can be revived and officially be eligible to be brought in civil court. As a result of this legal change, California plaintiffs will now have a new window of opportunity to secure justice on their own terms.

California Child Sexual Abuse Statistics

Accurate data on cases of child sexual abuse in California can be challenging to obtain due to underreporting, social stigmas, and the tendency for many cases to be concealed from authorities or the public eye. 

However, below are a few statistics that shed light on the problem of sexual abuse among children in California: 

  • California has a rate of 44 child sex abuse victims per 100,000 children, according to a 2021 report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 
  • With nearly 62,000 individuals, California ranks second as the state with the largest list of registered sex offenders in the country.
  • One in ten California parents reports being sexually abused in their childhood in a study conducted by Kidsdata. 
  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles reported between 500 and 600 cases of suspected abuse annually, with sexual abuse comprising 42% of these cases. 

If you are a survivor and wondering can you sue someone who molested you as a child in California, contact The Pride Law Firm to learn about whether your case is eligible under California’s statute of limitations. 

Child Sexual Abuse Settlements and Verdicts in California

We recognize that no amount of financial compensation can make amends for the unimaginable suffering childhood sexual abuse survivors endured. The Pride Law Firm commends individuals who come forward as lawsuits prevent perpetrators from committing similar offenses to other innocent people.   

However, for sexual assault survivors, compensation offers vital financial support to aid them in the healing process. Handling claims such as these can be draining, which is why it’s important to highlight the victories of other survivors: 

  • In December 2023, a Northern California jury awarded $25 million to three siblings who were sexually abused by a foster parent. 
  • Two former students successfully sued the Moreno Valley Unified School District for $135 million over allegations that their former teacher molested them as sixth graders in the 1990s. 
  • A jury handed down a $25 million verdict in a suit against the Santa Barbara Unified School District in a case involving several victims sexually abused by a freshman football coach.  
  • A Californian woman who was molested as a child for years by her stepfather in the 1980s received a landmark $2.3 billion settlement

We share these stories to underscore the profound impact of California child sexual abuse lawsuits in holding responsible parties accountable and getting deserved compensation for survivors to help them address their trauma. 

Contact an Experienced Sexual Misconduct Lawyer

Sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases are already emotionally charged matters. Revisiting such a traumatic incident many years after it occurred can be even more complicated. Our attorneys know that it is important to practice self-care and recognize that your feelings as a survivor are valid. 

Jessica Pride and her team have extensive experience handling sexual misconduct cases. Our experience sets us apart and allows us to provide the highest quality of service. Contact The Pride Law Firm online or by calling us at (619) 516-8166 for your confidential legal consultation. Our entire team is standing by to handle your case with the utmost compassion to ensure that you receive the care you deserve and the justice you are entitled to under the law. 

Proudly Representing California Residents

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