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California Child Molestation Laws

Sex Offender Registry

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

California Penal Code § 11165.7 sets forth a long list of professionals and others who are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect (including sexual abuse) to authorities. A report is required when a mandated reporter has knowledge of or observes a child whom the reporter knows or reasonably suspects is the victim of abuse or neglect.

Medical care professionals, teachers and school employees, clergy members, film and photo processors, foster parents, therapists and counselors, and individuals providing services to minors are considered mandatory reporters in California. In addition, any other person who reasonably suspects that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect may report.

The report must be made immediately. Failure to report abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in a county jail or by a fine of $1,000, or both.

Child Abuse and Neglect

California Welf. & Inst. Code § 300 and California Penal Code § 11165.1 provide that:

A child is considered dependent if he or she has been sexually abused; there is a substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused, as defined in § 11165.1 of the Penal Code, by his or her parent, guardian, or a household member; or the parent or guardian has failed to adequately protect the child from sexual abuse when the parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of sexual abuse.

“Sexual abuse” means child sexual assault or sexual exploitation as defined below:

  • ‘Sexual assault’ includes rape, incest, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts upon a child, or child molestation.
  • ‘Sexual exploitation’ refers to any of the following:
    • Depicting a minor engaged in obscene acts; preparing, selling, or distributing obscene matter that depicts minors; employing a minor to perform obscene acts
    • Knowingly permitting or encouraging a child to engage in, or assisting others to engage in, prostitution or a live performance involving obscene sexual conduct, or to either pose or model alone or with others for purposes of preparing a film, photograph, negative, slide, drawing, painting, or other pictorial depiction involving obscene sexual conduct
  • Depicting a child in, or knowingly developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct

California Civil Statute of Limitations in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

California Civ. Proc. Code § 340.1 provides that actions for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of child sexual abuse generally must be commenced on or before the victim’s 26th birthday. However, the action may be brought later if the person or entity against whom the action is commenced knew, had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, and failed to take reasonable steps, and implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid future acts of unlawful sexual conduct.

School Sex Abuse Claims

When molestation or sexual abuse occurs in a school setting, the school district or parent corporation may be held financially accountable in a civil suit. Estey Bomberger has handled numerous claims against school districts and private schools in California, including San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Fresno County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Shasta County. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.