SB 926 Criminal Statute of Limitations Extended for Victims of Sexual Abuse
September 30, 2014 SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 926, legislation by Senator Jim Beall to give more time to the survivors of childhood sex abuse to press charges against their assailants, was signed into law by Gov. Brown today. The law becomes effective on Jan. 1.The bill calls for changing California’s penal codes by increasing the deadline for victims to seek criminal charges against the person or persons who abused them. Currently, victims have until they turn age 28 to press charges. Under SB 926, the age limit is raised to 40 years.“This bill provides more time for traumatized victims to cope with the mental and physical scars they received from the people who hurt them,’’ Beall said.“Medical evidence tells us victims require more time to come forward and expose their abuser to law enforcement. These credible findings effectively undermine the premise that victims must be restricted from seeking prosecution after they turn 28. In fact, it raises the question why survivors of childhood sex abuse should be restricted at all from reporting the crime. We must not allow child molesters to elude justice simply because they are able to ‘wait out the clock.’“I believe SB 926 will get sexual predators off the streets and stop them from abusing more children, as well as giving closure to those who have already suffered the abuse. Our Legislative Aid Treva Kelly attended every hearing on this bill. We would like to thank her for her dedication and many hours at the state capital.
California, like many states, has a special, extended civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse because of the uniqueness of childhood sexual abuse and the difficulty many victims have in fully understanding the abuse they have suffered, and its devastating, life-long consequences, coming to terms with what has occurred and then coming forward in a timely fashion. California gives victims up to the age of 26 (8 years after reaching majority age) to bring an action for childhood sexual abuse or within three years of the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the victim's psychological injury was caused by the abuse, whichever occurs later. This bill seeks to better protect victims of childhood sexual abuse by increasing, up to the victim's 40th birthday, the statute of limitations for abuse occurring after January 1, 2015. Like the existing statute of limitations, this measure applies equally to private and public schools and to all local government entities. This bill was not approved by Governor Brown.
California State Capital Building, May 28, 2009
In 2008 and 2009, ISSB members lobbied in favor of AB 612, written by Assemblymember Jim Beall. AB 612 is a bill to prevent unfounded theories from being used to take children away from their protective parents and placed into the custody of their alleged abusers. Family courts are currently allowed to ignore evidence of abuse, and place child into custody of their abusers without investigating the abuse allegations. This has lead to several children being murdered or committing suicide, and it needs to be stopped.
AB 612 was effectively killed by the California State Senate Judiciary Committe, who amended the bill to the point that it became meaningless. Assemblymember Jim Beall still lists the bill on his home page, but was unable to bring it any closer to passing in 2010.
Celebrating the passage of SB 33, California's Circle of Trust Bill: Alison Arngrim from Protect.org, Andrea Ransdell from ISSB, Betsy Salkind from Protect.org
SB 33: California's Circle of Trust Law
Andrea Ransdell and more than a dozen other ISSB members lobbied, along with Protect.org activists, including Grier Weeks, actress Alison Arngrim, comedian Betsy Salkind, and Bikers Against Child Abuse to pass California's Circle of Trust Law, SB 1803 in 2004, and SB 33 in 2005. (Most ISSB members choose not to post their pictures or names on the ISSB website for personal and/or legal reasons)
The Circle of Trust Law reverses California's previous "Incest Exception" law. Before SB 33 was passed, even though adults who raped someone else's child would go to jail, adults convicted of raping their own children would be sent back home to live with the victim, thanks to an Incest Exception Law that had been passed in 1981. The courts wanted to believe that it was OK to send the child home with her convicted rapist, but victims of this 1981 law came forward to testify about the repeated abuse, and the huge betrayal they felt after being sent back home after the conviction to suffer more sexual abuse. SB 33 passed, thanks to Senator Jim Battin--and thanks to ISSB members and hundreds of other supporters. Rapists are no longer given free reign to "grow their own victims." California's Circle of Trust Law has set a precedent for passing similar bills in other states.
Andrea Ransdell speaking at the Bill signing ceremony for AB 2893, September 2006
In 2006, several members of ISSB wrote letters and lobbied in support of AB 2893 (Mountjoy) , a bill which made it a little more difficult for convicted, registered sex offenders to have unsupervised custody of their own victims. As it was originally written, AB 2893 would have made it impossible for registered sex offenders to re-gain custody, but the bill had to be weakened it to get it through the committees.
The final version of AB 2893 which was signed into law states that, if a judge decides to award unsupervised custody to the person who molested that child, a written explanation for the decision has to be filed with the decision. This will make it possible for the child's lawyer to appeal the decision. The law previously allowed family court judges to award unsupervised custody without any explanation at all, and this made it almost impossible for the child's lawyer to file an appeal, which unfortunately had resulted in children becoming severely depressed and even committing suicide.
The new law is not very strong, but AB 2893 is setting a precedent to help pass stronger laws to protect children in the future.
Andrea Ransdell, who, in 2006 was the Legislative director of ISSB, had the opportunity to speak at the bill signing ceremony for AB 2893