In California, survivors of sexual assault are now eligible to revive their sexual assault and abuse claims thanks to the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which was signed into law by California lawmakers earlier this year. California plaintiffs will now have a window of opportunity to secure justice on their own terms for crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse, as well as any related claims arising out of the sexual assault. Victims may also seek justice for sexual harassment and wrongful termination that occurred on or after January 1, 2009.
Breaking down the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act (The Act)
Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777), also known as the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act (The Act), officially became law on January 1, 2023. AB 2777 provides sexual abuse victims an opportunity to seek justice in California. Victims can now revive their assault and abuse claims from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2026. The revived cases are officially eligible to be brought in civil court, provided that those sexual assault claims were barred solely because of the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Before the Act was signed into law, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims that occurred “on or after a victim's 18th birthday was within ten years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault against the victim, or within three years from the date that the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered an injury or illness that resulted from those harmful acts.” Now the Act provides survivors of sexual assault a three-year window to file a claim to recover any damages due to sexual assault crimes that occurred on or after January 1, 2009.
What is a “Cover-Up”?
The new legislation has also opened a one-year revival window that allows victims to bring sexual assault claims and claims arising out of sexual assault that involve "cover-ups" that would have been barred due to the previous statute of limitations before January 1, 2023.
As defined by the AB 2777, a "cover-up" is "a concerted effort to hide evidence relating to a sexual assault that incentivizes individuals to remain silent or prevents information relating to a sexual assault from becoming public or being disclosed to the plaintiff, including but not limited to, the use of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements."
AB 2777 Covers Other Sexual Assault Claims
As mentioned, From January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, the AB2777 will revive claims for incidents that involve employer cover-ups of sexual assaults for one year. Those who have survived sexual assault are eligible to pursue previously time-barred claims that include "causes of action" for sexual harassment and wrongful termination against an employer under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Plaintiffs are eligible to file these claims if they claim that they were sexually assaulted by one or more or/if the alleged entities were liable for the damages incurred due to the sexual assault.
The entities liable for damages who were engaged in a cover-up or attempted a cover-up of a previous instance or alleged sexual assault by an alleged perpetrator of such abuse include, but are not limited to, agents, directors, employees, officers, and their representatives. The AB 2777 also allows survivors of sexual assault the opportunity to pursue accountability for sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims stemming from assault in the workplace.
What the AB 2777 Does Not Cover
According to the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, it does not revive any claims that were brought against a public entity, claims that have been litigated to finality in a court of competent jurisdiction before January 1, 2020, and any claims that have been compromised by a written settlement agreement between the parties entered into before January 1, 2020.
California Sexual Assault Victims Have a Chance for Justice
This new law offers those survivors of sexual assault who have carried the weight of their traumatic experiences the opportunity to process, move forward, and finally seek the justice they rightfully deserve. Right now, Morgan & Morgan is taking on cases for California sexual assault survivors. To learn more information on the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, or to see if you are eligible to revive your claim, we may be able to help you. Contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.