California bill aims to remove statute of limitation from child sex abuse cases

A new bill wants to eliminate the statute of limitation for child sex abuse cases in California. Right now, a person with claims of child sex abuse must file the civil case before the age of 40. 

Assembly Bill 452 says if you were sexually abused as a child, it won’t matter how much time has passed if you want to try to get justice in court, but one legal analyst says there are reasons why time is of the essence when seeking justice. 

"The fear of not being believed, the fear of being blamed, right? The fear that somehow, my family is going to be torn apart because of this," said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Cathia Walters. 

Last year President Joe Biden signed the "Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act". It states there is no time limit for filing a civil claim in federal court and now several states have followed suit. Dr. Walters explains that it can take years for someone to process sexual abuse that happened during childhood. 

"So, with those fears comes the denial. I’m not going to say anything because one if I say something, not only will I be blamed but how am I going to be viewed? Right? Am I going to be seen as a willing participant in this situation here?" Walters said. 

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Assemblymember Dawn Addis from Morro Bay and Berkeley Sen. Nancy Skinner (D) introduced the bill last week. Skinner released a statement, saying in part: 

"AB 452 will right this wrong by eliminating the deadline for taking civil action against child abusers and those who aided or allowed the abuse to happen or covered it up."

California's law currently states that if a person is sexually abused before the age of 18, they must file a civil claim in court before turning 40 years old. 

"It can be very challenging for a business or an individual to try and defend these claims that are many decades old and that’s why there is a statute of limitations," said Legal Analyst Steven Clark. 

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Clark says California’s current statute is already much longer than usual, these claims aren’t covered by insurance and can ruin lives if the claims are unfounded. 

"Nobody really wants to protect a pedophile and that’s not what the law is designed to do. What the law is designed to do is protect the business entities who may not have really done anything wrong," Clark said.  

Child Advocacy USA says 13.5% of children are at risk for being sexually abused before they turn 18. AB 452 is now awaiting a referral to its first policy committee.