Even the Smallest Victims Have Rights

The statistics on childhood victimization rates are staggering even before one considers the problem inherent in counting the victims—i.e., underreporting by the victims themselves. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 12 children have experienced sexual victimization, including sexual assault or rape. In addition to physical injuries, the psychological injuries can be life-altering. Abused children may become prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other psychiatric disorders lasting well into adulthood.

California laws allow victims of child sexual abuse and molestation to recover money for injuries inflicted by the perpetrators of these crimes. If a victim is willing, a court may award the victim money restitution to be paid by a felony perpetrator as part of a criminal sentence. In 2012, for example, a San Francisco court ordered a defendant to pay $625,000 in restitution to the victim.

Victims may also recover money damages in civil lawsuits. Lawmakers in California recognize that survivors of child sexual abuse suffer psychological injuries that are not always apparent until adulthood. As a result, the statute of limitations—the law that controls the time one can file a lawsuit—for victims of childhood sexual abuse are relatively long.  Although exceptions exist, California law generally permits that an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse, as defined, be commenced within 8 years of the date the victim attains the age of majority (18 in California) or within 3 years of the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness was caused by sexual abuse—whichever occurs later.

Janssen Malloy LLP has experience representing victims in civil and criminal cases. If you or a loved one have been injured in such a situation, talk to an attorney at Janssen Malloy LLP about your rights.