New 2020 law #2: More time for adult victims of child sexual abuse to sue

On the heels of the #MeToo movement, California has approved a new law extending the statute of limitations on cases of alleged childhood sexual abuse. Starting Jan. 1, adults have until at least their 40th birthday to file claims against people and institutions they seek to hold responsible for sexual molestation or sexual assault they experienced as children. Before this new law, victims had until their 26th birthday to file suit.

It’s the second to be featured in our CalMatters #CALaws2020 video playlist of laws that take effect next year.

Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, the new law also opens a opens a three-year window for victims who are now over age 40 to file such suits.

Lawmakers tried twice before to pass similar laws, but former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed both — noting that statutes of limitations exist because the passage of time makes it harder to reach a fair conclusion in a case. Opponents also warned that extending the deadline for lawsuits could bankrupt schools and other institutions forced to reckon with alleged incidents years or even decades ago.

But Gov. Gavin Newsom sided with groups of childhood sexual abuse survivors, and signed it into law.

CalMatters reporter Elizabeth Castillo explains what it means.

Between now and the end of the year, watch as CalMatters video producer Byrhonda Lyons and the CalMatters reporting team explain how various new laws will influence the lives of Californians. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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