Nordstrand Black - May 2020

L AW Y E R S F O R J U S T I C E

PERSONAL INJURY LAW JOURNAL

805-962-2022

WWW.NORDSTRANDLAW.COM

MAY 2020

HOPEFUL NEWS I hope this newsletter finds you

FOR SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ASSAULT

their abuser regardless of how long ago the crime took place. Thus, people of all ages have a chance to pursue justice for the crimes committed against them as children. After 2023, the new statute of limitations for filing will be significantly extended from what it was in 2019. Beginning in 2024, childhood sexual assault survivors will have until they reach 40, or within five years of discovering related psychological injury. These time extensions are critically important as it can often be decades before an assault survivor feels they are ready to come forward with charges. The new law is sensitive to the many mental, social, and personal obstacles that come with making the decision to file such a suit, thus allowing survivors time to heal before moving into a court case. Meanwhile, the new law covers a broader scope of acts that abusers can be held accountable for. In the past, California Civil Code used the term “sexual abuse” when referring to sex crimes against children. The law put into effect this year changed the term to “childhood sexual assault,” meaning many traumatizing experiences that failed

to meet the definition of “sexual abuse” will be included.

and your family well. At the time of writing, our state is in the midst of a public health crisis, and the news has been filled with bleak headlines. So, while we can’t predict the future, we do want to share one piece of news that many Californians may not be aware of. This year, the state has taken significant measures to defend survivors of childhood sexual assault. Assembly Bill (AB) 218 came into effect on Jan. 1 of this year, introducing sweeping changes to laws relating to child sexual assault cases. These changes give survivors more time to press civil charges against their abuser, broaden the definition of what actions can constitute a lawsuit, and aim to hold institutions that shelter abusers accountable. These are all significant changes that address many challenges survivors faced in seeking damages for the harm inflicted on them, and each bears a closer look. First and foremost, this law has created a three-year period where the statute of limitations for pursuing a claim against an abuser are effectively suspended. Until Dec. 31, 2023, survivors of sexual assault will be able to file law suits against

Last but certainly not least, AB 218 takes aim at any organization that has sheltered sexual predators. This means that groups that have historically used their power to protect these offenders, including schools, sport leagues, churches, and the Boy Scouts can be held accountable for covering up these heinous acts. If such an institution was involved in a cover-up, then a survivor may be awarded three times the damages. Our firm applauds these much- needed changes to our civil code. They both alleviate the time pressure often felt by survivors and punish those who protect their abusers. We know this can be a difficult subject to discuss, but if you or someone you know was sexually assaulted, you have a better opportunity than ever to hold your abuser accountable. Should you decide to take this important step, our firm will be more than happy to help you achieve justice.

– Renée Nordstrand

805-962-2022 • 1

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