Californians who suffered childhood sexual abuse now have more time to bring civil claims against third parties who knew of their abuse but did not take reasonable steps to prevent it. Governor Gray Davis signed a bill recently that allows victims to initiate a lawsuit three years after they discover any psychological injury caused by the abuse. This law replaces a requirement to file suit against third parties by the age of 26. The bill, to be retroactive once it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2003, includes provisions for those who had filed a lawsuit but were turned away because the statute of limitations had expired.
“In my opinion, anyone who turns a blind eye to the suffering of a child is almost as guilty as the perpetrator of the abuse,” Davis said in a press release. “This law will help ensure that these people who looked the other way at child abusers are held responsible for their inaction.”
The majority of states now have some provision extending the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims – Connecticut for example, recently passed legislation that allows for victims to file suit 30 years after reaching adulthood, which is 18 or 21 depending on the law at the time.