Sexual molestation is unlike most types of legal claims – on childhood victims, it can be discovered very late in life. Why? Because of the body’s inherent and continuous efforts to heal and repair itself, even psychologically, many victims of childhood molestation only become aware of what happened to them in their teens, 20s, or later. The question that many victims of childhood sexual abuse and/or molestation often wonder is, how late is too late to bring claims against the perpetrator.
California has special laws in place for victims of childhood molestation or sex abuse. According to California law, the statute of limitations for bringing claims for childhood sexual abuse is 8 years after the victim turns 18. However, California is one of a number of states that extends this time for victims that do not discover the damage caused by the child sexual abuse until later on. This is called the “discovery rule.” It allows civil lawsuits to be brought within 3 years of the discovery of the injury caused by sexual molestation. This rule was put into place to protect and give rights to victims of childhood sexual abuse that repressed memories for many years, long after the statute of limitations expired. So, the applicable statute of limitations is:
- 26 years of age (8 years after turning 18); or
- Within 3 years after discovering or reasonably should have been discovering that psychological injury or illness occurring after turning 18 was caused by the abuse.
In addition to the above, victims of childhood sexual molestation or abuse can often identify others who knew or should have known about the sexual abuse but did nothing to prevent it. California law also allows such lawsuits to be brought against “employees” “volunteers,” “representatives,” or “agents” (for example, of churches, boy scouts, girl scouts, coaches/sports teams, and other groups) who know about unlawful sexual conduct, but failed to protect the child.
If you know a child who has been the victim of sexual abuse of any kind or nature, it is imperative that legal help be obtained to assert the child’s rights to justice. AXIS Legal Counsel represents victims of childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. Call today at (213) 403-0130 for a free and confidential no-risk consultation.
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