It’s devastating and enraging for a parent to find out that their child was sexually molested. We at Gavel Law Firm commit our resources to advocating for child molestation survivors, and we vigorously fight to hold perpetrators accountable. These include offenders as well as the people who tried to cover up the abuse.
In California, you can pursue a civil claim on behalf of your child, or you can file a claim for yourself if you survived molestation years ago. A civil case could result in compensation that empowers you and your family to heal, and give you a sense of justice.
Let Gavel Law Firm help you. We are trusted attorneys in Riverside because we provide these advantages:
- Competent, compassionate service. Our team is aggressive when fighting for justice, but sincerely empathetic when dealing with each client. We’ll constantly communicate with you, provide clear answers, and connect you with helpful experts and resources.
- Insider experience. Our child molestation attorney Bryan A. Mason has prior experience in the insurance industry. He knows how defendants and their insurers work, which is an advantage as we pursue compensation for survivors.
- You pay no fee until you win. Our firm won’t charge you lawyer fees until we’ve obtained compensation for you. Your consultation is also free and confidential. You risk no money when you approach the child molestation lawyers at Gavel Law Firm.
We believe victims of child molestation, and we are ready to listen to you. Talk to us in a free and confidential consultation. Call Gavel Law Firm at (951) 289-0202 today.
What Counts as Child Molestation in California?
Under California law, child molestation does not necessarily have to be sex with a minor. The term “child molestation” may also mean inappropriate behavior towards a minor, such as touching, caressing, kissing, or making lewd comments. In certain circumstances, even arranging to meet privately with a child could constitute a lascivious offense.
- California Penal Code section 288 broadly includes lascivious acts that are intended to appeal to the perpetrator’s lust or to arouse the child.
- California Penal Code section 647.6 includes “annoying” a minor for sexual purposes.
Often, parents are unsure whether they can pursue a case on child molestation. If you find any indication at all that your child has been molested, it’s best to consult a legal professional right away. Your immediate action could be crucial in stopping the offender from further harming your child or others.
Perpetrators of Child Molestation
Child sexual offenders can come from all walks of life, across various professions and positions, including:
- Counselors or therapists
- Priests, pastors, or ministers
- Scout leaders
- Camp organizers
- Daycare workers
- Foster care
- And more.
When Organizations Cover Up Molestation
Many child molesters have held positions of authority, and even more unfortunately, their organizations may enable them or dismiss complaints against them. You should not be afraid of holding them accountable.
California has a law that allows victims to sue a person or organization that tried to conceal child molestation. A cover-up could lead to “treble damages” for the survivor, which means triple the amount of compensation.
With the help of a reliable attorney from Gavel Law Firm, you can safeguard your rights while pursuing a legal avenue for justice. We are not afraid to stand up to well-resourced persons and organizations. On the contrary, we use all our skills, resources, and tenacity to bring them to justice.
Civil Justice: Why Families File Claims on Child Molestation
Sexual acts and inappropriate behavior towards minors may constitute both a criminal case and a civil case. Here are a few important differences, and why families opt to file civil lawsuits for their child’s molestation:
- Civil claims focus on survivors. In a criminal trial, the focus is on the defendant and whether they should be punished. Meanwhile, in a civil case, the goal is to repay the losses of the victim, including any medical, psychological, and emotional needs. This is valuable especially in cases of childhood molestation, where medical assistance and trauma therapy are essential.
- Civil claims have a lower burden of proof. Criminal cases require proof “beyond reasonable doubt” that the offender committed the crime. The required proof in civil claims is much lower – the claimant only needs to establish that the events “more likely than not” took place. Hence, molestation survivors may have a better chance of success through the civil justice system.
- Civil claims empower survivors. In criminal court, it is up to state prosecutors to pursue a trial, and the victim may have to provide testimony. In civil court, however, the survivor decides on whether to file a claim, and they can be represented by their attorney throughout the process. Most civil claims don’t even proceed to trial, as they are settled favorably outside of court.
No amount of money can undo your child’s harrowing experience, but monetary compensation can greatly help your child and your family move forward. For instance, it can allow you to access high-quality counseling or therapy for your child, recover your medical expenses, and invest in your child’s education.
You can file a civil claim regardless of what happens with the criminal case. Even if the criminal charges are dismissed or the criminal court finds the offender “not guilty,” it may still be possible to succeed in your separate claim.
At Gavel Law Firm, we skillfully help molestation survivors in their civil claims. Our child molestation attorneys are experienced in Riverside’s civil court and have obtained maximum compensation for our clients.
Time Limit for Child Molestation Claims: California Statute of Limitations
Starting January 1, 2024, California has eliminated the statute of limitations for child sex abuse, including child molestation. This means that victims who were molested from that date forward will no longer have a time limit to file a lawsuit. This much-needed law provides survivors with all the time they need to overcome feelings of shame or fear and to speak up to a trusted attorney.
For survivors of child molestation prior to 2024, the time limit to sue is until their 40th birthday. If they found out only later that they suffered psychological injury from their abuse, they have another five years to file suit, starting from the date of discovery.
If you are a parent or legal guardian of a molested child, you may bring a lawsuit on behalf of the minor. Your right to sue on their behalf could potentially end once the child turns 18. To clarify the filing timeline in your specific situation, please reach out to us at Gavel Law Firm.
Child Molestation Claims in Riverside: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I file a child molestation lawsuit in Riverside even if I’m over 40?
Yes, it’s possible to file a child molestation lawsuit in Riverside or elsewhere in California even if you are over 40 years old. You must, however, meet these main conditions:
- You discovered only later that you’ve suffered psychological harm from the abuse.
- You’re filing suit within five years of the discovery of psychological harm, or five years you reasonably should have discovered it.
A therapist’s statement will be crucial to show the court that your psychological injury could only be discovered belatedly. You’ll also need a highly skilled attorney to assert your rights to compensation even years later.
What is the statute of limitations for child victims in California?
If the child sex abuse occurred after January 1, 2024, there will be no statute of limitations (time limit) to file a lawsuit in California. For child sex abuse incidents occurring before 2024, the general statute of limitations is until the victim’s 40th birthday. In cases where the psychological injury was discovered late, the time limit to sue is five years from the date of discovery.
What is AB 218?
AB 218 was the assembly bill-turned-law in California that extended the time limit to file a civil lawsuit on child sexual abuse or molestation. Before this legislation, child molestation victims could sue only up to their 26th birthday. After AB 218 became law in 2019, the time limit is up to the victim’s 40th birthday.
Note that a newer law, AB 452, completely removes this time limit for child sex abuse incidents occurring from January 1, 2024 onwards.
What is the three-year lookback rule in California?
The three-year lookback rule in California was a period from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022 when any survivor of child sex abuse could file a lawsuit, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. This three-year period aimed to provide legal recourse to victims who previously couldn’t sue because they ran out of time under the old statute of limitations.
Contact a Riverside Child Molestation Lawyer from Gavel Law Firm
Though the subject of child molestation can be difficult to face, speaking to a trustworthy lawyer can be a step towards justice. This applies whether your child is the molestation victim or you yourself are seeking justice for the abuse you suffered as a minor.
Gavel Law Firm is ready to listen to you, provide legal guidance, and strongly represent you in your claim. More than that, we are eager to support you with kindness, patience, and care for your well-being. This is why more and more Southern Californians have come to trust us for their sensitive sexual molestation cases.
Let’s schedule a free and confidential consultation for you. Call Gavel Law Firm now at (951) 289-0202.