New law extends statute of limitations for sexual assault victims

Victims now allowed up to a decade to seek civil damages

Adult sexual assault victims in California now have up to 10 years to seek civil damages under a new bill, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday.

Assembly Bill 1619 is a marked difference from the state's previous three-year statute of limitations. Under the new law, people over 18 years old who have been sexually assaulted will have 10 years from the date of the assault or three years from the date of discovery of an illness or injury that resulted from the assault, whichever is later, to start a civil case.

In the press release, Berman cited physical and emotional trauma, expenses due to health care costs, loss of wages and legal fees as some of the obstacles that a victim faces while they seek justice in court.

"As women and men across the country share their experiences of sexual assault -- often years later -- it is clear that significant time is needed to recover and overcome the many practical obstacles that prevent sexual assault survivors from civil recourse," Berman said in the press release.

Extending the statute of limitations will help victims who might not know what legal options are available, are waiting for evidence to be processed or waiting for the outcome of a criminal investigation or trial, according to Berman. The previous statute of limitations was not a "realistic" timeframe for the victims, he said.

Critics of the bill, however, have said waiting for 10 years to file a civil suit could result in unavailable or less reliable witnesses, as memory deteriorates over time.

The Association of California Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners, which represents the doctors, nurses, and physician assistants who conduct forensic medical examinations for survivors of sexual assault, sponsored the bill.

Kim Walker, a representative of the association, said in the release that sexual assault victims "experience deep emotional trauma that can manifest as suicide attempts, drug addiction, reckless driving, dropping out of school, school problems from lack of focus and concentration, job performance issues, lack of support from family and friends, and much more. They may not have the personal strength to pursue civil remedies, and sometimes their criminal cases are still pending.​"


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6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2018 at 4:40 pm

From the New York Times: "Trump Sees ‘Very Scary Time’ for Men in the #MeToo Era"
Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by VS
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 2, 2018 at 6:18 pm

VS is a registered user.

Good progress! Thank you, Marc Berman.

12 people like this
Posted by be worried, be very worried (not)
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 2, 2018 at 6:26 pm

"Trump Sees ‘Very Scary Time’ for Men in the #MeToo Era"

Well, of course he would. What would anyone expect him to say?

In fact, that's so obvious, I'm sure The Onion probably predicted it a year ago.

Thank you, Assemblyman Berman.

10 people like this
Posted by Requesting information, please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm

Were there two similar bills? One that was rejected, by Gov. Brown, and reported in the Los Angeles Times here: Web Link and then this one?

This is confusing. I saw no mention of the other bill that shows survivors were disappointed. Please, some clarification?

Editor's Note: Berman's bill, signed by Gov. Brown, pertained to victims of sexual assault who were 18 or older at the time of the assault. The vetoed bill applied to sexual abuse of juveniles.

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