Days after a California woman's YouTube video alleging childhood sexual abuse by a teacher went viral, the former teacher, who was working as a high school vice principal, has resigned.
Jamie Carrillo, now 28 years old, claims she made the video to get closure, because the statute of limitations for the alleged crime -- which happened when she was 12 -- had already passed, reports Reuters.
But is it really too late for legal action to commence?
Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
As far as criminal prosecution is concerned, California's statute of limitations for sex crimes is generally 10 years, "with some possibility for a limited extension if the victim was under 18 at the time of the offense," Reuters reports. Police and local prosecutors are now looking into Carrillo's claims -- and her viral video -- to see if anything can be done.
Similarly, when it comes to civil lawsuits, nearly every state suspends the statute of limitations while a victim is a minor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Many states also provide extensions specifically for cases involving sexual abuse of children, because injuries resulting from the alleged abuse (including emotional and psychological trauma) often take many years to discover.
In California, a victim of childhood sex abuse generally must file a lawsuit against her abuser and/or people or entities who owed her a duty of care (such as the school district) by age 26, otherwise it's typically too late.
Since Jamie is now 28, it may be too late for her file a lawsuit against the former teacher. But she still could potentially be able to sue the school districts that hired the former teacher.
Calif.'s Childhood Sexual Abuse Law
In 2003, a California law went into effect that allows a victim of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit on or after her 26th birthday if the person or entity she's suing:
- 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.
The goal of the law is to deter future child sex abuse. A potential lawsuit would likely focus on whether the district had a duty to do more in response to suspected or rumored child abuse.
Jamie's former teacher was previously investigated by both school and law enforcement authorities in 1999 when rumors began to swirl about the alleged abuse. But the investigation resulted in no arrests, charges or disciplinary action. The teacher resigned with a positive recommendation, reports the Los Angeles Times.
- Woman Tapes Encounter With Teacher Who Allegedly Molested Her (Gawker)
- 2nd Miramonte Elementary Teacher Arrested for Child Abuse (FindLaw's Blotter)
- $23M Bail for LA Teacher in Child Abuse Scandal (FindLaw's Blotter)
- CA Principal Molested 7 Girls Over 15 Years: Police (FindLaw's Blotter)