California Sex Abuse Lawyer

Last updated Dec 11, 2023
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Key Takeaways

  • Sexual abuse is one of the most severe crimes anyone may commit against another person, especially a child.
  • In California, childhood sexual abuse happens largely through grooming, where abusers manipulate the child into believing that it is normal to have sexual interactions with them.
  • Civil lawsuits allow survivors to seek justice and compensation against their sexual abusers and/or third-parties who facilitated the crime.

Helping Californians Pursue Justice After Sexual Assault and Abuse

Sexual abuse is widely regarded as one of the most severe crimes that can be committed against another person, especially a child. Betraying the trust of an individual in this way can leave them with lifelong physical and psychological scars.

The laws around abuse can be confusing, which is why it is crucial to hire a California sex abuse lawyer if you are considering filing a sexual abuse lawsuit in California. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, which may make it difficult to pursue justice after a certain period of time has passed. Consulting with a lawyer as soon as you are ready may help hold the abuser and any other relevant parties accountable and get you the justice you deserve.

How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Happen?

Childhood sexual abuse in California happens largely through a process known as grooming. Children’s minds are vulnerable, and adults with bad intentions use this to manipulate kids into believing that it is okay, normal, and even an expression of love for an adult to have sexual interactions with them.

Due to this manipulation, it can and often does take years for the survivor to realize that they were abused. Even after they realize this, there is a long process of recovery to go through before a survivor is ready to press charges, if they choose to do so at all. As a result, it can take years to bring the abuser to justice.

As an adult, the survivor may suffer from mental health issues including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and panic attacks. Survivors may also be at an increased risk for suicide.

We understand that confronting an abuser is never easy. The qualified California sex abuse lawyers at Edwards Henderson are here to help you through your case with dignity and compassion.

What is the California Child Victims Act?

Assembly Bill 218, also known as the California Child Victims Act, was enacted in 2019 as a way to make the process of pressing sexual abuse charges easier and more accessible to survivors. Here is a brief overview of the main changes to the law under this bill.

  • Cover-ups are now a crime. Anyone who has suffered sexual assault as a child due to a cover-up, such as the head of an organization protecting a troop leader, counselor, etc. even though they had knowledge of the abuse, may be entitled to treble damages. Treble damages means that the plaintiff (the survivor) in these types of cases may be entitled to three times the amount of money that would have been awarded in their case if a cover-up had not taken place.
  • Extension of the statute of limitations. One of the most important aspects of the California Child Victims Act is the extension of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor. Previously, survivors had to bring a lawsuit against their abuser within 8 years of reaching the “age of majority,” (18 in most states), until the age of 26, or 3 years from the “discovery of damages,” whichever of those came first. This refers to the date that the survivor discovers that their abuse had a lasting detrimental effect on them. Assembly Bill 218 successfully changed this statute of limitations to 22 years from reaching the age of majority, 5 years from the discovery of damages, or until the age of 40, whichever comes first.

Why File a California Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Survivors of sexual abuse are often reluctant to speak up about what happened, even years later. There is often a sense of shame, even though sexual abuse is not the survivor’s fault. Survivors may wonder what good could come of reporting their abuse, especially years or even decades later.

While a civil sex abuse lawsuit may not put an abuser behind bars, it can still bring some sense of closure and resolution to the survivor and help hold accountable any organizations and businesses that may have allowed the abuse to happen under their watch.

Potential parties that may be held responsible for failing to prevent your sexual abuse from happening include but are not limited to:

Civil lawsuits also allow for monetary damages to be paid to the survivor. These damages can help provide justice to the survivor and compensate them for the pain and suffering they experienced as a result of the abuse. Damages serve the purpose of punishing the perpetrator and relevant entities, since the money will come out of their pocket, and compensating the survivor for what they have been through.

What to Expect When Reporting Sexual Abuse in California

Reporting abuse and filing a California sex abuse lawsuit can be a frightening thing to do, but Edwards Henderson is here to help survivors through each step of the process.

Hiring a lawyer is the first step in any civil lawsuit. A California sex abuse lawyer will sit down with you and collect some information about the abuse. This includes collecting evidence on where and when it occurred, what happened, some information about the perpetrator, and any information of a potential coverup if the abuse or assault took place under the watch of an organization or business. They will use this information to determine whether your case can legally proceed.

If your California sex abuse lawyer believes you have a potential case, they will file a formal complaint against the perpetrator and any associated businesses and organizations, who will be referred to as the defendants.

Both sides will need to gather information about what happened. You may need to give a deposition and answer personal questions, but your attorney will take you through each step as it happens. Some civil cases are settled outside of court, while others go to a civil trial.

Speak With a California Sex Abuse Lawyer

When you are ready to speak out about sex abuse in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, or anywhere in California, the attorneys at Edwards Henderson are ready to hear your story. Our expert litigators have secured multiple multi-million dollar settlements for survivors of sexual assault and abuse, making us one of the top litigation firms in the United States, and we make sure to fight for the maximum settlement for every client. Contact us today to set up a free and confidential case consultation.

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Edwards Henderson is a nationally-recognized powerhouse litigation firm, dedicated to providing its clients with the highest quality legal services and, at the same time, making substantial, positive changes for the common good.

We are skilled litigators and experienced trial attorneys who have effectively pursued civil lawsuits against some of the most powerful individuals, organizations and big businesses on behalf of people, victims and small businesses. In fact, we specialize in handling cases where the power differential is greatest and we can use our experience and resources to even the playing field. Our recent trial results speak for themselves.

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