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Reform Legislation Aiding Sex-Abuse Victims Inches Forward in California

September 5, 2013

UPDATE: Reform legislation in California benefitting victims of childhood sexual abuse cleared a big hurdle earlier this week. And now there are two more steps to go before a significant bill becomes law.

Senate Bill 131 would give sexual-abuse survivors a one-year window of opportunity to file a civil suit previously time-barred by statute of limitations. Plaintiffs could file a case against their abuser or their abuser’s employer. The window to file such cases would be open from 2014-2015.

On Sept. 4, SB131 passed the California Assembly with 44 yeas, 15 nays and 19 abstaining from voting. The bill now heads back to the Senate for amendments to be voted upon. The bill needs 21 of 40 votes to be approved. The bill is expected to be voted upon by week’s end.

If the measure passes the Senate, it will advance to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, where the governor has 30 days to sign it into law. If signed by the governor, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

SB 131 has been one of the tougher fought pieces of statute-reform legislation in the country. The bill faced intense opposition from critics, who have argued that the bill unfairly singles out the Catholic church,the Boy Scouts, and other private and nonprofit employers and exposes them to lawsuits over decades-old allegations tough to defend in court. We see it as necessary for abuse victims, giving them a much-needed shot at justice for cases typically not prosecuted under criminal statutes. SB 131 was defeated earlier this session but eventually passed the Senate last month in a comeback vote.

We’ll continue to keep a close eye on SB 131. We were curious to see if Gov. Brown had a statement or has indicated how he’ll vote on this. So far, we’ve not heard back from the governor’s press office, so we’ll continue to keep an eye on this. SB 131 is watershed legislation for sexual-abuse victims and could lead the way for other states to follow.


Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, child sex-abuse attorney: 425-830-8201
Dan Fasy, child sex-abuse attorney: 206-462-4338
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590

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