Joelle Casteix, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in California and successfully sued the Catholic Church in 2002, applauded the signing of AB 218 into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The legislation tackles child sexual abuse in three ways: providing a three-year “lookback window” for previously time barred claims; extending the civil statute of limitations to age 40; and widening the definition of childhood sexual abuse to childhood sexual assault.
The three-year lookback window created by AB 218 opens on January 1, 2020. During this time, survivors of childhood sexual assault can bring civil suits against their predators and the institutions that covered for them, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred.
“For almost 16 years, the courthouse doors have been closed to California’s adult survivors of childhood sexual assault — especially survivors from impoverished and immigrant communities,” said Casteix, now a leading national spokesperson and advocate for other survivors. She is the author of “The Well-Armored Child, a Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse,” and a founding board member of Zero Abuse Project, a nonprofit organization committed to eliminating child sexual abuse in all its forms.
“Today, Gov. Newsom and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez changed the balance of power. Survivors can finally help protect kids by ensuring that what happened to them does not happen to another child,” Casteix said.
Predators know that child victims are likely not to report abuses, and also rely on institutions for access and cover-up, Casteix said. But now she believes the three-year civil window will enable survivors to expose abusers who are still working with children today, as well as the institutions that cover it up.
“We are sending a loud and clear message — predators and those who protect them are no longer safe in the Golden State,” she said.
“Now that AB 218 is law, we will learn the true scope of the crimes of abuse and cover-up across the state. Predators will no longer have get out of jail free cards. Survivors will take back the reins, regaining control of their lives. Our children will be protected.”