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If you are a survivor of Child Sex Abuse and are willing to share your story with advocates, legislators, committees, or media, please let us know. 

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Child Victims Act in California

California Governor Jerry Brown Vetoed SB 131

Read the National Center for Victims of Crime's Statement on Jerry Brown's Veto of the Child Victims Act (SB 131)

Overview of SB 131, the California Child Victims Act


In 2002, recognizing that it can take decades before victims of child sex abuse can come forward, or even recognize how they have been harmed, California amended the civil statute of limitations with a two-prong approach to give victims an opportunity for  justice. Under a "delayed discovery" provision, victims could file suit within three years of when they discover that their current injury or condition was causally related to the childhood sex abuse. For victims who had previously made their causal connection or whose statute of limitations had otherwise expired, the legislature created a one-year "window" in which victims could file a civil suit without regard to the statute of limitations.

The Quarry bothers were sexually abused in the 1970's, but did they did not recognize how they were harmed by the abuse until the late 2000's. They filed suit within three years of making the causal connection.  In 2012, the California Supreme Court ruled that the delayed discovery provision did not apply to the Quarrys because the language of the statute was not explicitly retroactive.  Consequently, their statute of limitations expired when the civil window closed  in 2003.  In effect, the court ruled that the law required them to file suit before they even knew they had been harmed.

SB 131, the California Child Victims Act, will do three things:

  1. It will make retroactive the delayed discovery provisions of 340.1 to comply with California Supreme Court decision in the Quarry case.

  1. It will provide a limited, one year, civil window to provide an opportunity for justice to those victims who were previously excluded by the technical defect of 340.1.

  1. 340.1 requires a victim suing a third-party to allege in his or her initial pleading specific proof that the defendant had notice of the sexual abuse.  The proof of this knowledge is usually documented in the defendant’s own files.  SB 131 would allow the parties to conduct discovery before the court could rule on a motion to dismiss for failure to allege proof of notice.
Not all silence is golden. Child Victims Act



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Senator Jim Beall (Democrat) District: 15

Where is this Bill?

Senate Bill 131: Track this bill

Read the Child Victims Act

Key States Currently Considering the Child Victim Act

For more information on reforming statutes of limitation for child sex abuse and efforts in other states, please visit one of our advocacy partners at www.SOL-Reform.com

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The Problem

The sexual abuse of children is a public health epidemic in the United States. Recent child sex abuse cases at Penn State University, the release of documents concerning sexual abuse and the Boy Scouts and consistent reports of abuse within California institutions such as Miramonte Elementary School are recent examples.

Research has shown that as many as one in four women and one in five men suffered abuse as a child and that almost 90% of abuse never gets reported.  Those that do come forward find themselves barred by the legal technicality of a statute of limitation. Considering how long victims often take to find the courage to speak out, statutes of limitation are woefully short and act as an arbitrary barrier to justice.

News Coverage of the California Child Victims Act

All news

Veto of the California Child Victims Act by Governor Jerry Brown: Statement from the National Center for Victims of Crime

Contact:   Kath Cummins
                Director for Public Affairs

By vetoing the Child Victims Act (SB 131), California Governor Jerry Brown has sided with the interests of powerful institutions ahead of protecting children, The National Center for Victims of Crime said today.

“Institutions will never take child sexual abuse seriously if they can continue to hide behind the restrictive statute of limitations law California and other states cling to,” said The National Center’s Deputy Executive Director, Jeff Dion.

“We know the obstacles to victims coming forward within the traditional time requirements are immense. Many suffer years of depression, addiction and self-blame and go through several failed relationships before they connect this harm with the abuse they endured.

“Meanwhile, we know that child predators don’t retire: they will move on to other victims until we allow past victims to hold them accountable,” he said.

This California legislation was conservative in its scope. SB 131 opened a small, one-year legal window for some adult victims of child sex abuse to file suit against the institutions who had sheltered their abusers.

This small number of victims were not covered by a suspension of the statutes of limitation or "civil window" that went into effect on January 1st, 2003. While these victims were abused prior to the opening of the window, the victims did not meet the legal standard of linking the harm they experienced to the abuse suffered, until after the window closed. The California Supreme Court narrowly determined last year that those victims' sole opportunity to file a civil suit was during the 2003 window.

“In effect the Court ruled that these victims were required to file a lawsuit before they knew they were harmed,” said Mr Dion.

The Governor made no mention of this Supreme Court Case, Quarry v Doe, in his lengthy explanation for using his veto – and yet the bill was crafted specifically to remedy the Supreme Court’s determination that the window could not be retroactive as it was drafted.

Importantly, SB 131 would also have stopped institutions barring access to their files and archives prior to the judge determining whether the case could go forward or be dismissed.

“Time and time again we find evidence of cover-up in the archives of Churches and other institutions. By stopping victims having access to these documents, those who shelter child abusers can again escape accountability,” said National Center Executive Director, Mai Fernandez.

The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.