California Assembly Bill 1455 Gives Victims of Sexual Assault By Law Enforcement Additional Time To Seek Redress In The Courts

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (August 8, 2023) – California Assembly Bill 1455 allows victims of sexual assault additional time to file civil claims if they were abused by law enforcement.

The new law is Assembly Bill 1455 and was authored by Assembly member Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland. It was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2021.

The law took effect on January 1, 2022. The bill gives victims of sexual assault by police officers and correctional officers two major options.

In one option, victims are able to sue in civil court up to 10 years after their assailant was convicted of sexual assault or a crime in which sexual assault was alleged.

The second major statute of limitation is related to the time after an assailant leaves law enforcement. Victims may file a lawsuit up to 10 years after their attacker left the law enforcement agency they were working at when the attack occurred.

Following the passage of the new law, there has been a surge of sexual assault claims. A large portion of these claims involve former prisoners at the California Institution for Women in Chino, the California Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, and the Folsom Women’s Facility.

The Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin has also been plagued by instances of prisoner sexual abuse. Abuse has been so rampant the female prisoners have nicknamed the jail the “rape club.”

There are numerous reports of women being sexually assaulted by guards. Correctional officers would often maintain the abuse by threatening retaliation if the women spoke up.


Liability For Sexual Assault By Prison Officials

Sexual abuse within the prison system is extremely common. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Correctional administrators reported 27,826 allegations of sexual victimization in 2018, a 14% increase from the 24,514 reported in 2015. Of the 1,673 substantiated incidents of sexual victimization in 2018, about 58% were perpetrated by other inmates and 42% by staff.” There are a number of steps that prisons should take in order to prevent instances of sexual abuse involving correctional officers.

  • Prison managers should understand the factors that lead to sexual victimization and predation.
  • Correctional officers should be thoroughly vetted before they are allowed to start working.
  • Jails should not allow inmates to be isolated with correctional officers.
  • All suspected instances of sexual abuse should be reported and thoroughly investigated.

It is a serious crime for law enforcement to have a sexual relationship with any person in custody. It does not matter whether the person in custody offered their ‘consent.’ The power dynamic between an inmate and law enforcement is too great for there to be any type of informed consent. Pursuant to California Penal Code 289.6 (a), “An employee or officer of a public entity health facility, or an employee, officer, or agent of a private person or entity that provides a health facility or staff for a health facility under contract with a public entity, who engages in sexual activity with a consenting adult who is confined in a health facility is guilty of a public offense.” Far too often correctional officers take advantage of their position to abuse inmates and then use that same authority to cover it up.

A prison could face civil liability if an inmate within their care is sexually abused by a correctional officer. Consider, for example, the case of Morris v. Eversley. Prison officials could be liable for inmate sexual abuse if they had actual or constructive knowledge of past violations involving the assailant which they failed to remedy. They could also be liable if they were grossly negligent in supervising an officer or showed deliberate indifference to a known risk of harm. There are a number of steps that victims of sexual abuse by correctional officers should take.

  • It is important that a police report of what took place is created.
  • All evidence related to the sexual abuse should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage of the incident should be sought.
  • An experience jail sexual abuse attorney should be contacted.

The vast majority of instances of sexual abuse involving correctional officers are preventable. By the time a law enforcement agent is found guilty of sexual abuse, there were likely dozens of red flags that were missed. Any person that is sexually abuse by the police or prison guards does have recourse under the law. Thanks to the passage of Assembly Bill 1455, many additional victims will finally be able to have their day in court.

Getting Legal Help After Sexual Abuse By Law Enforcement

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our best wishes to all of the inmates who have been sexually abused at the California Institution for Women in Chino, the California Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, and the Folsom Women’s Facility. It is our sincere hope that the volume of sexual abuse claims being pursued by victims will help create lasting change.

Have you or someone that you care about been sexually abused by law enforcement in California? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of civil rights attorneys are here for you. We care deeply that abuse victims are aware of their rights and that their abusers are held to account. Whether you just have legal questions or are thinking about hiring an attorney, we may be able to help you. You are always welcome to reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.


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