CA Bill Focuses Squarely on Rights of Sexually Abused Children

California child sexual abuse victims unquestionably have an ally in State Sen. Jim Beall (D-15th Senate District). The senator’s support for that vulnerable demographic has long been on display via multiple pieces of legislation he has authored or otherwise sponsored.

And it was again apparent just last week when, on Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown ratified California Senate Bill 1053. That lawprominently addresses child sexual assault in the public sector and provides clarification concerning civil actions against offenders. Beall wrote SB 1053 and championed it through the State Legislature in bipartisan fashion and with multiple sponsors from across the state.

Many child advocates have long sought the clarifying legal language that now explicitly marks the legislation. Although an earlier bill passed back in 2008 – SB 640 – expressed the same subject matter, it was not facially clear enough to promote its intent, with that deficiency harming many victims.

SB 640 was drafted in response to existing California tort law, which requires victims of civil wrongs committed by employees of public entities (schools, for examples) to file a written notice of wrongdoing within six months. SB 640 exempted child victims of sexual abuse from that duty, recognizing that victims sometimes take years to come forward and seek justice.

Even with SB 640 on the books, though, many schools continued to apply the six-month cutoff in abuse claims, which prompted Beall’s clarifying follow-up.

Unsurprisingly, SB 1053’s passage is being widely praised across the state. A spokesperson for one organization that formally supported the bill states that it goes far toward ensuring that California’s laws “recognize the unique and traumatic impact of childhood sexual abuse.”

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