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California Enacts AB 218: Landmark Bill Protects Children from Sexual Abuse
Zero Abuse Project Commends the New Law, Which Opens a Three-Year Window for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault to Seek Justice and Hold Institutions Accountable.
Sacramento, CA (October 13, 2019) – Zero Abuse Project today issued the following statement from Joelle Casteix, the only survivor to testify on behalf of California Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), a founding board member of Zero Abuse Project and former Western Regional Leader of SNAP, on Governor Gavin Newsom signing AB 218 into law. The bill is an important step forward for survivors of child sexual abuse and is critical in the effort to protect California’s children. AB 218 tackles child sexual abuse in three ways: it opens a three-year “lookback window” for previously time barred claims; extends the civil statute of limitations to age 40; and widens 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. Today, Governor 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.
“Child sexual assault is a crime of power that uses sex as a weapon. Predators know that child victims are likely not to report. Predators rely on institutions for access and cover-up. Now, with this three-year civil window, survivors can 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.
“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.”
Joelle Casteix testified as the main witness on behalf of AB 218 in Sacramento. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in California and successfully sued the Catholic Church in 2002. Joelle is now a leading national spokesperson and advocate for other survivors. An expert on institutional child sexual abuse and cover-up, she is a TEDx presenter and the author of The Well-Armored Child, a Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. She is a founding board member of Zero Abuse Project, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to eliminating child sexual abuse in all its forms. She is the former Western Regional Leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.