What Is the Statute of Limitations on Priest Sexual Abuse in California?
Childhood sexual abuse can leave survivors with a lifetime of shame and fear, especially when the abuser was someone they trusted.
At Boucher LLP, we recognize the immense bravery that it takes to come forward and speak about your abuse.
When you reach out to us, we will fight for you. However, the time you have to file a claim against the abuser or an institution is limited by law.
What Is a Statute of Limitations and Why Does It Matter?
The deadline to file a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse is defined by a rule called the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations sets the time after a crime was committed, during which you may file a civil claim for damages against an offender.
If you miss the deadline, a court will likely dismiss your case without reviewing the facts. Thus, survivors need to be aware of the statute of limitations in California for priest sexual abuse.
Assembly Bill 218: How Did It Change the Statute of Limitations in California for Sexual Abuse by a Priest?
In 2019, the California legislature recognized that many adults realize the long-lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse later in life.
In response, it amended the California Penal Code to include three components in sexual assault cases, including the:
- Age cap,
- Discovery rule, and
- Revival window.
When you file a civil case for childhood sexual assault, the court will require your case to meet at least one of these rules.
The Age Cap
Before 2020, the law disallowed childhood sexual abuse cases filed by a person over 26. With Assembly Bill 218, also called the California Child Victims Act, the legislature extended the age cap to 40 years old.
Survivors now have 22 years to file suit against the offender or responsible institution after reaching 18, the age of majority. However, this does not mean you cannot file a claim if you are over 40. Your case may qualify under another rule.
The Discovery Rule
Studies show that the impacts of childhood sexual assault are long-lasting.
According to the survivor-advocate group RAINN, survivors are three to four times more likely to experience mental health issues like drug abuse, PTSD, and major depressive episodes.
It often takes a lifetime for a person to connect these issues to childhood sexual assault. Additionally, many survivors avoid or fully repress their memories of the abuse as a coping method.
For that reason, the California legislature added a process for claiming damages discovered later in life, known as the “discovery rule.”
California’s discovery rule allows a survivor five years to file a claim once they discover that the childhood sexual assault caused their adult psychological injury or illness.
The Revival Window
In addition to extending the age cap and implementing the discovery rule, Senate Bill 218 established a “revival window” for survivors to file previously time-barred claims.
Between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, anyone may bring a new claim of childhood sexual assault, regardless of age or time of discovery. Survivors may sue the abuser and any responsible institution during this time.
Boucher LLP: Attorneys Helping You Understand the California Priest Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
If you are ready to speak out against your abuser, the compassionate and experienced lawyers at Boucher LLP can help. We have extensive experience taking on cases that are complex and difficult to prove, and our record speaks for itself.
We have helped hundreds of survivors achieve multi-million dollar settlements from the Catholic Church and have fought to have Catholic dioceses release the names of priests who have committed sexual abuse. Let us stand up for you, too.
Call us, and we will walk you through your options, including the California priest sexual abuse statute of limitations and whether it applies to your case.