Sexual Assault & Molestation

sexual assault and molestation

Sexual assault and molestation can take many forms in California. But they can generally be broken down into two types of cases; childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault and battery. The primary distinction between the two is the age of the victim.

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Childhood sexual abuse occurs when an adult performs a lewd or lascivious act upon the body of a minor with the intent to arouse, appeal or gratify the lust passion and/or sexual desires of the adult person. From a criminal perspective, the adult is subject to harsh criminal penalties including imprisonment, registration as a sex offender, loss of the right to vote and mandatory AIDS testing. From a civil perspective, the victim has rights to file a civil lawsuit for money damages against the perpetrator. Childhood sexual abuse is defined as any acts perpetrated against a person under the age of 18 years old that would be a violation of specific penal code sections set forth in the Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1(e). These include intercourse, touching private parts and copulation. The victim’s statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim reaches the age of 18. The time for commencement of the action shall be within eight years of the date plaintiff reaches the age of majority or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the plaintiff reaches the age of majority has occurred. The statute runs at the later of these two time frames. However, as with any statute of limitations, they can be complicated and you need to consult an attorney to determine exactly when your statute expires.

The plaintiff can still maintain an action even if they are eighteen or older when the sexual misconduct occurs. The best example of such a case is date rape. Many victims of date rape have reached the age of majority. But that does not preclude an action for date rape, or more accurately named, sexual assault and/or battery. The phrase date rape is a little misleading. It suggests that there must be a “rape” which many people associate with penetration. However, the cause of action is actually for the “assault” which can occur when a victim is touched in any offensive and sexual manner.

If you have any issues involving childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault, contact the attorneys at Gateway Law.

By Douglas Gilliland