Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, today introduced AB 452, the Justice for Survivors Act.
The legislation ends California’s arbitrary civil statute of limitations for minors who have experienced sexual abuse and removes barriers that prevent survivors from seeking justice against their abusers and the institutions that concealed or ignored their claims.
“I am immensely proud to author the Justice for Survivors Act with my colleague, Senator Skinner,” Addis said. “By eliminating the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, we are helping survivors come forward to seek the critical closure they need. It’s time to end this arbitrary and cruel time limit on justice.”
“There are good reasons why survivors of sexual assault and abuse may take years or decades to confront their experience. This delay can be due to the complex ways in which we process trauma, and for self-protection, suppress painful memories. These incidents of abuse are often accompanied by threats of harm, feelings of shame, or the very legitimate fear of not being believed,” explained Skinner, who is a co-author of AB 452 and of prior bills on this topic. “It’s unacceptable and cruel that many California victims of childhood sex abuse are unable to hold their abusers accountable because our law now says their time has run out. 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.”
Under current law, survivors who experience sexual assault as minors only have until their 40th birthday to seek justice in civil court.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, which removed statute of limitations for people who were sexually abused as minors to file civil claims in federal courts. Subsequently, numerous states have eliminated the statutes at the state level.
“There is an epidemic of child sexual abuse, with 13.5 percent of children at risk of being sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday, many repeatedly. Society must protect children through statutes of limitations reform,” said Kathryn Robb, Executive Director of Child USAdvocacy. “There is a national movement sweeping across the country to reform our laws, with many jurisdictions passing elimination, extension and revival legislation for child sexual abuse claims. These are not typical torts, and they demand an atypical response. Bravo to California for acting once again to protect children and honor justice.”
“This bill introduction is a monumental step forward and brings much-needed awareness to reform the archaic laws that prevent survivors from coming forward and allows abusers to escape justice and hurt others,” said Mike McDonnell, spokesperson for SNAP, a peer network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters. “We are grateful to not only Assemblymember Addis and colleagues, but the dedicated survivors and advocates who have worked so hard to create this opportunity for reform.”
AB 452 now awaits referral to its first policy committee.