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Assembly Bill 218 Changes the Landscape for Sexual Abuse Victims

If you want results, call us. If you want peace of mind, call us. If you want representation who understands the hardship that has been thrust upon you, call us.

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On October 13, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law that dramatically changes the timeframe that sexual abuse victims have to file lawsuits against their abusers.

Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) takes effect Jan. 1, 2020 and implements the following changes:

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until age 40 or five years from the discovery of the abuse to file civil lawsuits. The previous laws set the age limit at 26 years of age or within three years from the discovery of abuse.
  • Victims of all ages now have three years to bring claims that would otherwise have been barred due to existing laws.
  • Previously barred claims that were not litigated to finality due to the three-year time frame will be revived.
  • The bill will allow for “treble” damages against defendants who are found to have covered up sexual abuse of a minor.
  • There is a change in terminology in AB 218 from “childhood sexual abuse” to “childhood sexual assault.” This broadens the definition and makes it easier for victims to bring a claim.

This Is a Major Change

AB 218 is critical for victims of sexual abuse, many of whom have had no recourse available to them because of existing time limits. The three-year “lookback window” has now been opened. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in California will now be able to file claims against their abusers regardless of their age.

This change matters. Research suggests that survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not typically tell anyone about their abuse until they are well into adulthood. Many people do not even realize they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults until much later in life – well past the age of 26.

One California man alleges he was sexually assaulted by a priest in the mid-1970s. Of AB 218, he says, “It’s a chance for me to heal and move on.” The abuse he sustained left his with deep emotional scars. He has never been married and has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Added Penalties for Institutions

Because AB 218 allows for childhood sexual abuse victims to recover treble damages against those who are found to have covered up sexual assault of a minor.

As we have learned over the last few decades, major institutions in the United States knew about abuse taking place within their ranks and worked to cover it up. This includes, but is not limited to, the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and more. These institutions would move abusers from place to place, allow them to resign and get jobs elsewhere, or simply remain where they were – all without reporting the abuse to law enforcement.

AB 218 will shine a light on these cover-ups, force institutions to confront their past, and change future policies.

The Time for Victims to Act Is Now

Courageous victims of sexual abuse are already coming forward thanks to Assembly Bill 218. They recognize this as the opportunity to get the justice that they never thought they would have. They are done being silent. DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo is ready to get to work and will be filing cases on behalf of BLANK sexual abuse victims on Jan. 1, 2020.

Covid 19 Update: We are accepting new cases and we handle everything electronically and remotely, so our clients never have to leave their homes.