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

Congress poised to approve $41 million to help clear backlog of untested rape kits

Congress is poised to approve $41 million sought by the Obama administration to examine untested DNA evidence collected from rape victims and held by state and local police across the country.

No firm count exists, but recent discoveries in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Detroit suggest that the nationwide total of untested kits never sent to laboratories and kept in police storage exceeds 100,000 — some of them held for decades. Victims usually are unaware that their kits have not been tested, and members of both parties have called the backlogs a national scandal.

On Tuesday, the full Senate is set to take up the funding as part of a $51.2 billion 2015 budget bill for the Justice Department and other agencies that is expected to win floor approval. The House voted May 30 for a budget bill with the funding.

“Whether sexual-assault kits are sitting in crime labs or police lockers, victims deserve to know they haven’t been forgotten,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.). “The evidence needs to be processed, the case investigated, the criminals brought to justice, and victims provided the services they need.”

The votes come as cities are discovering caches of untested kits and as concern has grown in some quarters over how the Justice Department has allocated more than $1.2 billion since 2004 for programs to expand DNA testing at crime labs. While officials said the funding was aimed at clearing rape-kit backlogs, which have become a symbol of problems in the handling of sexual-assault cases, much of the money has gone toward broader purposes.

Police may choose to not test evidence in alleged sex assaults if they think it will not be helpful, such as in cases where a suspect’s identity is not in question, an accuser recants or investigators determine a crime did not occur. But in some cases the reason authorities do not submit evidence for DNA testing is that a suspect has not been identified or a prosecutor has not asked, and many departments lack procedures to collect, process and store forensic evidence, according to a 2011 Justice Department report.

Nevertheless, untested evidence may hold powerful clues, especially in “stranger rapes,” because sex offenders are often repeat offenders.

In 2009, authorities found more than 11,000 unprocessed kits at the Detroit crime lab after it was closed for improperly handling weapons evidence. After testing the first 2,000 kits, authorities identified 127 serial rapists and made 473 matches overall to known convicts or arrestees, or to unknown people whose genetic material was found at crime scenes.

The matches came from Michigan, 23 other states and the District of Columbia. Eight men have been convicted and sentenced to prison, 61 others have been charged and await trial, and 150 investigations remain open, according to prosecutors in Wayne County, Mich.

The New York-based Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for survivors of rape, domestic violence and child abuse, pushed for the new grant program and is seeking police records to determine the scope of the problem in 15 large U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas.

Authorities in the District, Maryland and Virginia have generally not reported large backlogs in police storage, but which kits are counted as backlogged is unclear. Virginia this year enacted legislation calling on the state to inventory untested rape kits held by police and for kits to be submitted for testing by Jan. 1.

According to U.S. Senate appropriators, the new grants would pay to coordinate teams to test, investigate and prosecute sexual-assault crimes. Funds also could be used to train officers, improve law enforcement response to sex crimes and improve services for victims.

Sarah Tofte, a vice president for the Joyful Heart Foundation, said the aid will help offset costs for local authorities willing to tackle the problem.

Dedicated funding “is a relief to public officials” who have committed “to pursue every lead from testing rape kits, reform their criminal justice response to rape, engage survivors in the process and bring offenders to justice,” Tofte said.

In debating whether to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act last year, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) complained that under both parties the Justice Department had spent nearly $4 billion a year on more than 250 grant programs, many of which overlap, are ineffective and are poorly managed, he said.

Congress’s main effort in the area, the $1.5 billion Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, began in 2004 and was billed as targeting rape-kit backlogs at crime labs. However, its funds can also be used to expand DNA testing for other crimes and to pay for other forensic science programs if authorities say they have no backlog.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress’s audit arm, reported last summer that even though Congress appropriated $691 million from 2008 to 2012 for the program, the Justice Department awarded grants without clearly verifying how the money was spent and could not determine whether backlogs had been measurably reduced.

Justice Department officials say backlogs persist because the country has been expanding the collection of DNA evidence faster than lab capacity has grown.

Nevertheless, nearly half of Debbie Smith funding has gone to purposes other than expanding crime labs and reducing DNA backlogs, including research, training and administrative costs, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), described as the nation’s largest anti-sexual-assault organization.

RAINN and the National Center for Victims of Crime, which calls itself the leading advocacy organization for crime victims, did not initially sign on to the push for the new grants, saying they were concerned that it might siphon funding from the bigger program.

With that ruled out, “we’re pleased to see more resources going towards solving more cases. . . . Having all this evidence and not testing it just increases the number of crimes,” RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said. “It is dangerous for the community and bad public policy.”