Senator Ricardo Lara announced today that Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 14, which grants civil court protections to child victims of sexual abuse.
Authored by Lara, SB 14 effectively aligns civil court code with penal code, ensuring that a child victim’s sexual history will not be used against him or her in determining underage consent and making it more difficult to imply consent between a minor and an adult.
In criminal court, an individual under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual relations. No such protections previously existed in civil court.
“California is taking a decisive step today to close a loophole in the law that allows defendants in civil suits to claim that a child consented to sex,” said Senator Lara in a statement.
According to the release, a Los Angeles Unified School District case involving a 14-year-old student who had a sexual relationship with her 28-year-old teacher was ruled consensual in civil court, after the teacher was found guilty and punished with a three-year prison sentence in criminal court.
In the criminal case, a rape shield law also protected the victim from having her sexual history used against her.
“Now, sexual predators will no longer be off the hook for child abuse and negligence because of a nuance in law,” Lara said in a statement. “Thank you Governor Brown for signing this critical child protection measure.”
Above, left: file photo.