The three-year window established by California’s Child Victims Act – also known as Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) – which temporarily set aside the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims to file claims, will close on December 31, 2022. This “lookback window” opened a three-year window for those of any age to revive past claims that may have been prohibited from being filed as lawsuits because the legal time limit to bring such claims, known as the statute of limitations, had run out.
Since AB-218 was signed into law in 2019 over 1000 victims of sexual abuse have brought lawsuits against large organizations such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. Victims were able to seek recompense in cases dating back decades. According to a list of settlements compiled by the website Bishop Accountability, California Catholic churches have paid among the highest dollar amounts for sex abuse settlements of any state.
Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a an 11th-hour plea by nine Catholic bishops and archbishops seeking to overturn California’s Child Victims Act. The high court declining to hear the petition comes after California’s Supreme Court refused to consider the case in 2021. According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Supreme Court denied the review of the appeal without comment.
The reality is that under AB-218 thousands of victims have finally been given a chance to get the justice they deserve. The motions filed by the church to overturn the bill were morally reprehensible and a blatant attempt to deny victims their claims to justice.
For many of these sexual assault victims it may take years to come to terms with what happened. Victims carry shame, guilt and denial, and even well into adulthood are often reluctant to testify against their abusers. The Catholic Church had previously taken advantage of victims reluctance and leveraged statutes of limitation to make sure they never would testify. The church was well aware it had a sexual abuse problem but still continued to secretly harbor pedophile priests in its ranks.
The California Child Victims Act took away the refuge abusive priests had under the former statute of limitations and they can no longer hide. In California right now, thousands of victims have been allowed to come forward and receive the justice so long overdue them. For those who have been victimized by clergy the scandal of abuse never ends. You can still seek closure and the justice you deserve, but you must file before the lookback window closes on December 31, 2022.
At Saunders & Walker we are here to answer any questions you may have regarding filing a claim If a priest or another member of a church has sexually abused you, or anybody you know, please contact Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 to discuss how an AB 218 lawsuit can help you get the justice you deserve, even decades after the incident occurred. All conversations will be kept strictly confidential.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.