Childhood Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Statute of Limitations in California

In California, you can have unlimited time to sue someone for childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse. The reason the statute of limitations to sue for childhood sexual abuse can be quite long is that the governor has signed into law a bill that allows the victim of childhood sexual abuse and molestation to sue the perpetrator a long time after the incident occurred.

Have you always wanted to sue for child sexual abuse but you did not know where to start? Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm is here to help. Childhood sexual abuse is a traumatizing experience that no one should have to go through. It taints your childhood memories and leaves you vulnerable to any form of attachment. You will find that the most vulnerable groups in a community like the elderly, people with disabilities, and children are the ones that sexual abusers target.

As traumatizing and heinous as it is, most sexual abuse crimes go unpunished. That mostly happens because many people do not know the time limit to file a lawsuit for child molestation. Another reason is that the victims may take time to realize the abuse, especially if it happens when they are too young. By the time they do, or by the time they dare to come forward, it is not within the time limits to sue for child sexual abuse.

Due to the many cases of unpunished childhood sexual abuse, some states like California keep reviewing their child sexual abuse statute of limitations. Doing so gives the victims enough time to heal from the trauma and have the strength to sue their abuser.

We shall discuss the California child sexual abuse statute of limitations to see how Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm can help you seek justice for childhood sexual abuse in California. Before that, we need to understand what sexual abuse is, and how to know whether you or your child has experienced sexual abuse.

What is Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse can be defined as sexual activity with a child by an older child, adolescent, or adult. However, sexual activity between a child and another child has a lot of factors that determine whether it is abuse or just innocent exploration. If you experience child sexual abuse at any point in your life as a child and want to open a case against your abuser later on in life, the case will be filed as a childhood sexual abuse case.

What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?
For the court to consider an experience as childhood sexual abuse, you have to prove any of the following happened:

  • Intercourse with a child
  • Fondling a child
  • Obscene text messages and calls to a child
  • Child pornography-owning or producing
  • Forcing a child to masturbate
  • Masturbating in front of a child
  • Prostituting or trafficking a child
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses
  • Watching a child undress

There are two main types of child sexual abuse. One involves touching and the other one involves non-touching actions like exposing a child to sexual content. Whether it was touching or non-touching, you can open a case against anyone that put you through or let you experience child sexual abuse.

The good thing about states like California is that victims of sexual abuse assault can sue after a long time and still get the justice they should have gotten when the act happened.

Reasons Why Childhood Sexual Abuse Often Goes Unpunished
There are so many childhood sexual abuse incidences that have never been reported and the victims are just suffering in silence. Sexual abuse crimes are some of the worst crimes, especially when they happen to kids. Even so, most times they will remain a secret forever. There are several reasons why that happens.

1.   Sexual abuse is a taboo in most homes and even societies
Many homes cannot even discuss sexual topics with their kids. They have made it taboo to mention anything relating to sex, which makes it hard for a child to tell a parent or guardian when they have been sexually assaulted. If societies and homes could create a safe space for kids to discuss sexual topics, it would help rape victims come out and speak about it more.

A sexual abuse victim should not feel like they cannot talk to anyone because the more they suffer alone, the more emotional distress. Institutions like churches and schools should also discuss sexual topics with the students so that they can be aware of any sexual abuse crime against any of their students.

2.   Institutions covering up the abuse
Nowadays, institutions are more concerned about their reputation than the welfare of the people they are meant to protect. In cases where a school, church, or workplace has had a case of sexual abuse, they try to cover up the act instead of helping the victim recover. Such actions have made it hard for other sexual victims to come forward because when it is a big organization involved, the incident will just get covered up.

When you find yourself in such a situation, talk to Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm and let us work out a plan to help you get justice. If it happened a long time ago, this article will help you realize that the amount of time to sue for child sexual molestation in California and many other states is lengthy. You can sue your therapist for sexual assault and sexual abuse way after it happened and still get justice.

3.   Not responding to sexual abuse allegations responsibly
If there are no grave consequences for abusers, they will keep doing it and getting away with it. In most cases, if the abuser is a well-known person or an important person in the organization, nothing much will happen to them. That story will get buried and the victim will end up discouraged and may never report another case of sexual assault.

If no action is taken against perpetrators, child sexual assault cases will keep rising. States like California are working towards reducing that through bills that make it easier for victims to open a case against their abuser. The minor has a long time to sue for sexual harassment, which means they can do it when they feel safe and comfortable doing it.

4.   Harassment from Abusers
Child sexual abuse is done by adults or someone older. That means that they are either stronger or mentally mature to find a way to keep the child from talking. Some abusers will threaten to harm the child or the people they love if they talk, while others will blackmail the child using mind games.

The child might not be old enough to know that they can ask for help or find a way to report the harassment. In cases where the abuser uses fear to control the victim, it is very hard for that victim to come forward and report the sexual abuse. The fear of what more the abuser can do to the victim has forced so many sexual assault victims to stay quiet.

California Statute of Limitations to Sue for Childhood Sexual Abuse
In California, the statute of limitations to sue for childhood sexual abuse is 40 years or within five years once you discover the abuse as an adult. It was previously until the age of 26, which was not enough time for survivors to accept what happened and sue the perpetrator. If you discovered the abuse as an adult, you would only have three years to start a California child sexual abuse lawsuit.

After careful consideration, the state of California reviewed the California child rape statute of limitations and in the October of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 into law. Today, if you were raped as a child, you can take as long as you need to start a child abuse lawsuit in California, as long as it is not a day past your 40th birthday.

Also, if traumatizing events like sexual violence happen to children, it could take them decades to figure it out or even remember it. Some suffer memory loss and only remember when triggered by something in their adult life. For such cases, you can take up to five years to start the legal process on a childhood sexual abuse case in California. Below are the time limits around child sexual abuse claims in California.

  • Age 40 is the maximum age that a child abuse survivor must file a lawsuit
  • If a child abuse survivor discovers the abuse as an adult, they have to file a lawsuit within five years of the discovery
  • Since the signing of Assembly Bill 218 in 2020, any sexual abuse claims that had passed the statute of limitations now have a three-year window to file a sexual abuse claim

Actions Covered by the California Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sexual Abuse

1.   An action against the abuser
You can sue your school teacher for sexual molestation, or any other person that abused you as a child. A child sexual abuse attorney can help you open a case against the person who took advantage of you sexually, whether it was a family member, friend, or even a coach. As long as you are within the statute of limitations, the state of California will listen to your case and allow you to seek justice for the assault.
2.   An action for liability against any person or entity who owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
Children should always be under someone’s care because they are not old enough to protect themselves from harm. Therefore, a child needs to have a guardian, parent, or someone to oversee their welfare at all times.

If a plaintiff can prove negligence or a wrongful act by an entity or a person that owed them a duty of care, they can open a case against them. What that means is that you can sue a parent, sue the catholic church, or even sue the school for negligence. It all depends on who was supposed to take care of you at the time of the abuse.
3.   An action for liability against any person or entity if an intentional act by them led to the sexual assault that led to the injury or illness
If someone intentionally did something that resulted in your child abuse, you can also sue them. If you can prove that they were liable, then you have a case against them. With the excellent child sexual molestation attorneys we have at Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm, you can even sue the police department for negligence in a child abuse case.
How Long do I have to sue someone for childhood sexual molestation?
You have a long time to sue someone for childhood sexual molestation. If you were molested or sexually abused as a minor, you can take the time you need to feel comfortable sharing the experience with a court or a lawyer. Sexual predators use trust to prey on vulnerable and naive people that are close to them. Therefore, you will find that many childhood rape victims were abused by a relative, a teacher, a close friend, or someone they had been taught to trust like a counselor or a priest.

Due to the naivety of the child, they may not realize the abuse at that age. The memories and realization come later when they are all grown and can differentiate between love and abuse. Some kids even lose memory entirely and only remember the events in bits when they are adults. Most states in the US try to accommodate such cases by either having an extended statute of limitations for childhood abuse or not having it at all.

Whether a state has a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse or not, you have a long time to sue your teacher, sue your school counselor, or any other person that abused you as a child. And if that abuse leads to a condition or injury, you have about five years to start a legal claim.

If you come to Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm with a child molestation case as an adult, we advise you to see a psychologist help you realize how the events have affected your life so far. That way, you can be able to show the court the amount of damage the trauma you experienced has caused in your life.

How Many Years to Sue for Child Sexual Abuse in California?

In California, you have 22 years to sue for child sexual abuse after you have attained the age of majority and five years since the discovery of the sexual assault’s psychological effects. Before the above was enacted into law, the time limit to file a lawsuit if you were sexually abused as a child was eight and three years.

That means that by your 26th birthday, you should have started the child sexual molestation lawsuit, or else the perpetrator would go unpunished. Since the new bill became law, many sexual assault victims have been able to seek justice. Now they have enough time to digest the ordeal, heal from the trauma, and dare to sue their abuser. Also, California has multiple timelines to sue for childhood sexual abuse.

Having ample time for a rape survivor is very important because in many cases the abusers will have power over the victims and will use that power to try and keep them from talking. When a child is molested, a single threat from the abuser is enough to have them fearing for their lives for a very long time. With this new law, the child has a few years to sue for childhood sexual abuse, which is fair and right.

It is not until they can defend themselves that they feel brave enough to seek legal help. At Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm we understand that and try to make our clients as comfortable as possible so that they can feel free to share those traumatic experiences for help. So, if you are in California and you are worried about the amount of time to file a lawsuit for childhood sexual molestation, relax because we can help you do that any time.

Reach out to us within the statute of limitations and we will help you get justice from that abuser. We have child sexual abuse lawyers willing and ready to walk with you until you get your settlement.

Seeking Justice for Childhood Sexual Abuse
Do not die with a secret because you did not know where to start. The first thing you need is the courage to come forward. It is not easy because talking about it might open old wounds but that is the best way to heal. Getting justice is one way to lighten the burden of the assault.

With the extensions of time limits for childhood sexual assault cases in California, you have more time to gather the courage. Also, Goodwin-Moreno Law Firm will not let you do it alone. We will help you navigate the lawsuit and get the justice you have waited for all these years.

Call us today and talk to us about your case. Our experienced child sexual abuse lawyers are committed to ensuring that you get justice for what happened and that child sexual abusers do not go unpunished.

Let us walk with you through this journey. Whether you want to sue the Mormon church for sexual abuse and child molestation or sue the school administrator and educator for sexual assault, we are here to help you with it.