January 30, 2021
By Evan Symon
If successful, removal of law would greatly reduce statue of limitations, limit definition of child sexual abuse
This week, the Catholic Church filed motions in the Northern and Southern Superior Courts to remove the AB 218 law.
Assembly Bill 218, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. Under AB 218, the crime of ‘child sexual abuse’ was changed to ‘child sexual assault’ and expanded the statute of limitation for the crime from 8 years, or 3 years after the discovery of trauma stemming from the assault, to 22 years, or 5 years from discovery. Damage recovery guarantees were also clarified for certain defendants and increases damages where it was found that previous assaults had been covered-up by the employer.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez wrote the bill to allow more people, specifically those who were abused by clergy members when underage, to come forward with abuse charges, as many younger people had not been ready to come forward with charges until after the age of 26, by which time it became too late under the 8 year statute of limitations.
“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” said the Assemblywoman in 2019. “More and more, we’re hearing about people who were victims years ago but were not ready to come forward to tell their story until now. We shouldn’t be telling victims their time is up when in reality we need them to come forward to protect the community from future abuse.”
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