Welcome to the National Center for Victims of Crime

We are the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. Please join us as we forge a national commitment to help victims of crime rebuild their lives.

           

Add your name to a list of supporters for the Child Victim Act!

Click HERE to join thousands of concerned citizens ensuring justice does not expire!


I am a Survivor

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. 

All responses are strictly confidential and can include only the information you feel comfortable sharing.

To proceed, click HERE

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

Background

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

 

 

Sign the Petition to Support the Child Victims Act

Become a part of the national movement to protect children and hold abusers and those who harbor them accountable. 

This One Minute petition will help victims of child sexual abuse of all ages.

Authors:

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


   
Vote Smart

  • Find contact information for your elected representatives and let them know you support the Child Victim Act!
  • Track your elected official's record.

Need Help?

If you are victim or adult survivor seeking assistance, please refer to our Connect Directory for a full listing of organizations that can provide help. 


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

Removing Commanders From the Justice Process Is Too Extreme

The U.S. military is one of the single largest organizations on the planet, and it is right now engaged in a complex and lengthy culture change in how it handles sexual assault. This process has been underway since before the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act ushered in its high-profile slate of reforms. But these reforms are extraordinary in scope, and were made in response to victims whose voices rightly got unprecedented attention from legislators, policy makers and, crucially, military commanders themselves.

Commanders have been stripped of their power to overturn jury convictions, civilian review of military decisions not to prosecute cases of sexual assault has been mandated, and from now on military personnel convicted of sexual assault will be required to be dismissed or dishonorably discharged. In addition, as of January this year, all those who report sexual assault will be entitled to a Special Victims Counsel.

Having access to this personal legal advocacy could radically change for the better the military’s criminal justice process. But this solution, like the other reforms that have been enacted, needs time and resources before we can evaluate its impact on victims. Importantly, commanding officers will need to be fully engaged in order to embed these reforms in both the legal and cultural systems and norms of the military.

The Gillibrand bill, as it is popularly known, would take the military leadership out of the justice process altogether, and set up a separate and independent prosecutorial system outside the chain of command. This is the most extreme option on the table, and it is one that is always available to us. But until we have a chance to evaluate the reforms we have already undertaken, it is risky indeed to take out of the equation the very people ultimately responsible for changing the culture.

The list of what we don’t know about sexual assault in the military is a long one. We lack accurate data on everything – from the number and nature of the assaults to the processes used to deal with them. We know that reporting of sexual assault is up, but we don’t know to what extent that means more assaults or more victims coming forward. We know that there remain real barriers to reporting, but it matters what those barriers are. Is it because victims are fearful of reprisals by their peers or commanding officers? Or is it because going to trial means they must stay at home and not deploy – and not deploying could mean missing promotion?

The goal is to create a justice system that does not penalize those who come forward. It is not just individual commanders that have to be fair – the whole system has to be fair – and the support of commanders will be essential to this evolving change.

Taking the commanders out of the prosecution process will also remove needed attention and resources from the services that have just been afforded to victims. Let’s see if the new reforms work before we take a drastic step – one that we have no evidence will ultimately help sexual assault victims.