Ray Boucher Explains New Law for Sexual Abuse Victims
December 30, 2019
Starting January 1st, several new laws are set to go into effect in California. One of them: AB218. It extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims to file lawsuits regardless of age.
Jasmine Viel: This is a new opportunity to seek justice. First off, in simple terms, what does this new statute do?
Ray Boucher: So, in the simplest of terms, what it does is a couple of things. First, it allows people who have been sexually abused, and now understand and realize the connection between that abuse and what is that damage and destruction that has happened in their adult lives, to bring a lawsuit for compensation and to hold these individuals responsible accountable. It gives them three years to do that. So, the window opens January 1st and they have three years within which to bring a claim. The second thing that it does though, and this is important, is extend the time going forward for people who were sexually abused as children to the age of 40 to bring a lawsuit. So, those are the two most important things to come out of this new bill.
Jasmine Viel: You’ve gotten major settlements for child sex abuse victims of the Roman Catholic Church. You are expecting to see another wave of this. You are going after institutions, not only religious, but school districts.
Ray Boucher: Well, certainly, the Los Angeles School District is one of the places where we know there has been a significant problem of sexual abuse for decades, and the school district has not only failed to take steps to protect children, which is one of the important things that come out of these lawsuits is a requirement that institutions like the school district institute programs to protect children. We know that L.A. Unified School District is one of the places that has had a significant problem. It’s also a major problem in Hollywood. I’ve represented models who at 15, 16, 17 years old were raped by people in the modeling industry. Young child actors, the same things. And obviously the Boy Scouts and religious organizations.
Jasmine Viel: We just talked about the Boy Scouts. More than a dozen former Boy Scouts filing suit against several California organizations. This was a big news just a few days ago. So, you are expecting to see, with this statute, these victims brave enough to come forward.
Ray Boucher: You just made an important statement: “brave enough.” So many times, people suffer in silence; they don’t know where to go. They can’t communicate with their parents about it; it is difficult to talk to wives or husbands about it. So, they sit there and suffer in silence and it takes a lot of courage to finally come forward and say, “you know what, I was sexually assaulted as a young child and this is the effect that it had upon me.”
Jasmine Viel: Lastly, what do you want to say to anyone who may be watching or the victims that are out there? What do you want them to know?
Ray Boucher: Well I think the most important thing we want them to know is that they don’t have to suffer in silence, if there is a support group out there. They did nothing wrong as children and that’s one of things that so many victims deal with in life. They feel a sense of shame and guilt that this happened to them; “Did I do something wrong?” Well, you didn’t; you did absolutely nothing wrong -it wasn’t your fault. So, it may take time, and that’s ok, but there are resources, there are psychologists, there are psychiatrists, there are lawyers out there available to help you, and the civil justice system is there. And the most important thing is that the courage you show in coming forward, can empower so many other people that continue to suffer in silence and give them that same courage to come forward and, say “enough is enough.”