Advocacy Agency Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse may feel that their nightmare is far behind them or that they have little recourse to hold their abuser accountable.
However, in January of 2020, California passed Assembly Bill 218, also known as the California Child Victims Act. It opens a window for victims of childhood sexual trauma to hold the perpetrator liable and extended the statute of limitations to file a criminal or civil case.

The bill extends the statute of limitations for childhood victims an additional 14 years and extends the statute of limitations for those who experienced sexual harassment and abuse as adults from three years to five.

Furthermore, beginning January 1, 2020, survivors of childhood sexual assault of any age may file claims against their perpetrators. This “open window” period expires after three years, so time is running out to file charges.

What does this mean for victims? Many survivors may have been dismayed to realize that they were “too late” to file charges against the person that harmed them. Now, however, survivors have been given a second chance to get justice.

It can be scary to face your abuser, and filing claims for childhood sexual abuse can be complicated. Support and professional advice are essential. The Sex Abuse Advocacy Group is here to lend a hand, explain your rights under Assembly Bill 218, and help you to find qualified legal representation.

Some of Our Settlements

$100 M

Orange County Archdiocese Settlement

$660 M

Los Angeles Archdiocese Settlement

$198 M

San Diego Archdiocese Settlement

What is Considered to be Sexual Harassment?

The state of California defines sexual harassment as “both unwelcome sexual advances, and other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex.”

These kinds of actions are in direct violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Essentially, sexual harassment is any type of unwanted sexual behavior, from off-color jokes to touching another person’s body without permission or asking about their dating and sex life.

Oftentimes, your work’s employee handbook will have specifics about the types of behavior that are recognized as sexual harassment, which can help you to identify and understand the meaning of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment isn’t just limited to the workplace, however. It can occur at school, in extracurricular sporting events, or in volunteer organizations. Under California state and federal laws, you’re entitled to protection from a hostile work environment. “Work” in this case encompasses volunteering, school, or internships.

If you’ve experienced sexual assault or harassment, you aren’t alone. About 86% of women in California report having experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime, along with roughly 53% of men. Nationally, 81% of women report being victims of sexual harassment, while 43% of men say the same.

Holding the perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable can be intimidating for many victims. Oftentimes, the offender might be your superior: a boss, teacher, coach, or team leader. Other times, it could be a group of offenders telling explicit jokes and stories in a common break area or all participating in making comments about your body or the way you’re dressed.

Sexual harassment can be either in person or online, through social media, or work-affiliated communications platforms.
If you think what you’re experiencing in the workplace is sexual harassment or if any of these behaviors sound familiar, a sex abuse advocacy group can help.

Our Practice Areas

The attorneys at Boucher LLP have a high level of expertise in handling complex civil cases, including consumer class actions, employment class actions against employers that violate wage and hour laws, and mass torts litigation. As fierce champions for our clients, we’re unwavering in our advocacy to achieve justice and safeguard our clients’ rights.

Sexual Harassment

Rape and Sexual Assault

Employment Law

Child Sexual Abuse

Workplace Retaliation

Sexual Harassment in Housing

What Is Sexual Assault? Facts and Statistics in California

Sexual assault goes beyond sexual harassment and involves sexual contact that you don’t want. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, sexual assault is defined as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.”

Common Types of Sexual Assault Include:

Experiencing sexual abuse and trauma can have long-term effects that last into adulthood. Many survivors are at higher risk for developing substance abuse problems, such as drinking or drug abuse. Others may engage in self-harm, such as cutting or burning or even suicidal ideation and attempts.

Victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS) or eating disorders after the abuse or may experience heightened anxiety or depression.

Children who experience sexual assault may have ongoing developmental and psychological problems. One in four girls and one in seven boys are estimated to have been victims of sexual assault. About 80% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. Speaking out, therefore, can be scary, especially for children.

California has opened up more avenues for legal recourse for survivors of sexual assault under Assembly Bill 218. A sex abuse advocacy agency can help you learn more about your protection under the law. When you’re ready, an attorney with experience pursuing cases can work to hold your perpetrator accountable.

Facts About Clergy Abuse

Clergy sexual abuse isn’t limited to the Catholic Church, although that ecclesial body has been at the forefront of many claims of past abuses.

Sexual harassment and abuse by a religious leader, no matter what denomination, can be especially difficult for the victim. Religious leaders typically hold an esteemed position within their communities, making it harder for victims to come forward.

Within many religious enclaves, churches, and communities, sexual behavior may be vilified. Victims may feel like they’re to blame for engaging in “bad” behavior.

Clergy abuse refers to a member of the clergy abusing a non-consenting person or a minor. By definition, minors cannot give consent for any form of sexual interaction.

Even if the victim isn’t a minor, the power imbalance between a church leader and a member of the congregation makes consent questionable. The victim may feel like they don’t have a choice other than to participate.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “Consent is never possible when someone feels like they don’t have a choice.”

Clergy Abuse and Grooming

Many clergy abuse cases begin with “grooming” the victim, which is defined as engaging in manipulative actions and behaviors that cause the victim to become closer to the abuser, creating an atmosphere of trust and intimidation.

Grooming behavior can reduce the chances of the perpetrator being caught and cause the victim to feel like they were an equal participant in the abuse.

Grooming behavior is a slow, methodical process whereby the abuser gains access to the victim then builds trust. Over time, the groomer may give the victim gifts and attention, using affection to gain the victim’s trust.

Secret-keeping is often an integral part of the grooming process, as well. Victims may be made to feel like they’d hurt the groomer by talking about what happens between them. They may be afraid of losing the gifts and affection from the groomer.

At this point, sexual touches and topics of conversation are often introduced, with the groomer desensitizing the victim and making these actions and conversations seem natural.

Groomers may show pornography to the victim or even ply them with alcohol or drugs. Eventually, the victim and abuser may become emotionally enmeshed. A victim may be made to feel as though they wanted the abuse to happen.

The power imbalance and the opportunities for clergy members to engage in grooming behaviors may be a contributing factor to just how widespread this kind of abuse is. Hundreds of priests in dozens of dioceses of the Catholic church have been accused of past misconduct. Under California’s Child Victims Act, even people who are well into adulthood may come forward and make their accusations.

There is no criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse by a member of the clergy in California. The statute of limitations for a civil suit is 40 years (the “age of majority,” which is 18 plus 22 years), or five years after a victim discovers an injury caused by sexual abuse. However, Assembly Bill 218 adds a further three years to any expired civil cases.

Resources for Survivors of Sexual Trauma

If you’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed, either as an adult or as a child, you have options. You may want to pursue a case in court or need assistance locating a therapist near you. Perhaps you’re concerned about your child or a child you know and need help recognizing the signs of sexual abuse in children. We’ve gathered important information to help.

How Can I Take Legal Action for Clergy Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Sexual Harassment?

For clergy abuse, you and your attorney may file a suit against the individual that harmed you, as well as your particular church or diocese or even the greater organization; many people have listed the Vatican as a defendant in Catholic priest sex abuse charges. Your lawyer may advise you to join the class-action suit against the Catholic church.

If your abuse was from a member of the clergy, then follow your lawyer’s advice about when to speak out and where to file a complaint.

For sexual harassment cases, taking your complaint to your workplace may be the best place to start. Your company’s HR Department has an interest in stopping harassment in the workplace and may be able to take care of the behavior on your behalf.

However, if the harassment doesn’t stop, or if you’re being retaliated against because you spoke up, then you need a lawyer who understands both employment law and the laws about sexual misconduct.

Finally, if you experienced sexual abuse, where to start depends on when the abuse occurred. If it just happened, then have a medical exam via a “rape kit.” This can help to gather evidence of your assault. However, if it’s been days, months, or years since the assault, then you need to talk to a lawyer about your recourse.

Document everything that you can remember about the assault, including dates, times, and locations where possible. Under no circumstances should you attempt to confront your abuser alone.

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

Common indications of sexual trauma in children include:
Children who have been sexually abused often feel embarrassed, hurt, ashamed, and alone. Recognizing these signs is the first step toward providing meaningful help.

Resources for Survivors


RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual abuse support site, is an excellent resource for more information about different types of sexual abuse and assistance for survivors. It addresses the laws of each state, including how to report abuse and the statute of limitations for your situation. You can go online or call (800) 656-HOPE.

Department of Justice Clergy Abuse

If you’ve been a victim of clergy abuse, you may file a complaint with the US Department of Justice. If you have specific questions about your case, you can also email the DOJ.

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

This agency enforces the statutes prohibiting workplace sexual harassment and takes complaints about hostile work environments and employer misconduct.

What Our Clients Say

Meet Our Team

Founded by Raymond Boucher, the firm focuses on high-impact cases including significant personal injury cases, complex consumer litigation, and class actions, including sexual abuse cases. Boucher has been named to the Super Lawyers list for 17 years, was named Trial Lawyer of the Decade (2001-2010) by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and was named one of the top 500 lawyers in America by LawDragon. His successes include over a billion dollars in settlements in claims involving the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.

He has long been a trusted resource for referring attorneys. His skill and tenacity also make him sought after as co-counsel with law firms throughout the country. Boucher built the firm from the ground up, handpicking dynamic, talented and experienced attorneys who share his vision and values. Clients can expect meticulous preparation and tenacious, relentless representation, as well as highly individualized and compassionate service.

The firm’s lawyers have collectively helped secure over $2,150,000,000 in settlements and judgments.
Raymond Boucher
Founder of Boucher LLP

Shehnaz M. Bhujwala

A strong advocate of consumer rights in civil courts and the California Legislature, is a partner of Boucher LLP.

Brian M. Bush

A trial lawyer who concentrates his legal practice in the areas of civil rights, personal injury and mass tort litigation, serves as Of Counsel to Boucher LLP.

Alexander Gamez

Alexander Gamez is an Associate of Boucher LLP. He is a member of the firm’s complex employment team

Are You a Sexual Abuse Survivor?

Contact Us for Support and Legal Representation
The Sex Abuse Advocacy Group can help victims of sexual harassment or assault pursue their claims under California Assembly Bill 218. We can help you find counseling and legal representation, as well. We work with all victims of sexual abuse, men and women, adults and children. Contact Boucher, LLP, to discuss your case and hold your abuser accountable under the law.
The information contained on our website is provided for educational and informational purposes only. The content and features on this site do not create, and are not intended to create, an attorney-client relationship, and should not be construed as legal advice. Our prior results, including successful judgments and settlements in certain cases, do not guarantee a similar outcome in other cases. Each case is unique. No representations, testimonials, or endorsements on this web site constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of any case. © 2022 BOUCHER LLP. All Rights Reserved.