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childhood sexual abuse by a
member of the clergy?

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California Child Sex Abuse Legislation

Child abuse victims often feel shamed and fearful of standing up and telling others about what has happened to them. Even after they are adults and no longer have contact with the perpetrator, they live in silence. It may take years for them to buildup the courage to seek retribution for what was done to them.

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Clergy

Laws Regarding Childhood Sexual Abuse

California laws regarding sex abuse limited the time a child abuse victim could file acase against those responsible. The law that has stood for many years allowed the victim until they turned 26 years old to file a lawsuit against their perpetrators or within three years after the person discovered that psychological damage which occurred as an adult stemmed from the childhood trauma. After that time, the statute of limitations stood, which prevented them from taking action.

The problem with the law as it has stood is many adult survivors of child abuse aren’t ready to face their accusers as young adults. They just want to forget about what happened and try to build a life. It may be many years later when they realize they need to take action and they are able to handle the ramifications of legal action.

New Law Goes Into Effect January 1, 2020

On October 13, 2019 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law known asAssembly Bill 218, which will take effect on January 1, 2020. This law offers added protection for child abuse victims by allowing them longer to pursue legal action against those responsible for the abuse they suffered.

One change is the definition of childhood sexual abuse, which would be referred to as childhood sexual assault. Victims would now have until they turn 40 years of age to take legal action or five years from the date the person discovered their adult psychological issues are the result of childhood sexual assault. The victim could receive up to treble damages against the defendants.

An additional provision which will be beneficial to hundreds or even thousands of victims is the three-year lookback window. As of January 1, 2020, those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse beyond the original statute of limitations will now have the opportunity to revive their cases.

This action may be taken against the perpetrator of abuse or against those who provided care to the child and covered up the abuse. The law includes entities in thewording, which can mean the parish where the priest was assigned at the time.

This legislation allows for many survivors of child abuse by Catholic clergy in California to seek recompense who never had the option before. While the new law is a benefit to child abuse victims, it is often a complex and confusing process. It is best to work with an experienced law firm knowledgeable in California law regarding child sexual assault. An attorney can help you determine whether your case has merit and file on your behalf to receive the maximum compensation for the abuse you went through. While it can’t undo the past, this process allows victims to receive the justice which has been missing.