I am 46, when I was between the ages of 12-17 I was touched and orally copulated by a music teacher. I know it's been 30+ yrs and no criminal charges may be filed because of statute of limitations. However, I have started to experience mental stress and anxiety from this. I am currently trying to find a therapist to help me cope. Can I file civil charges against him or the school for pain and suffering to pay some of my counseling fees? Is it to late to file any kind of charges?
California's law on this issue is quite convoluted. On the criminal front, the SOL is 10 years for child molestation, but the prosecutor can also bring a case within 1 year of the victim telling the police even if it has been more than 10 years? The constitutionality of that provision and whether CA legislature will keep it is up in the air. Realistically, I don't see a prosecutor going after a case from 30 years ago (especially one that isn't headline-grabbing like Catholic Priest case). Bear in mind, the criminal prosecution doesn't get you any money.
CA's civil law is likewise problematic. As a practical matter, I doubt the music teacher has any meaningful financial resources to pay damages even if you could win a case. At this point, the only way to go after the school is if the school "knew" about it and didn't take reasonable actions to stop it. The basic statute of limitation is 8 years. However, CA, like many states, has adopted what is called a "discovery" rule. The statute of limitation is paused (so to speak) until the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury or psychological effects. Since you are 30 years after the fact, it is going to be tough (I think) to say that now is the first time in your life you may have been affected by this event. Think about that. If you were to file a lawsuit, your entire life from age 18 to now becomes fair game as they try to figure out when you "should" have realized this event was causing your problems. Do you really want to go down that road?
Maybe talk to your therapist about this desire to go after them now. It is not like you didn't know what happened was inappropriate this whole time. It is common for people who start grappling with a childhood trauma to want to seek retribution. It is one thing to feel like doing it (its a phase of recovery), but it is another thing to actually try to do it. I it is one thing if the event took place 3, 5, 7 years ago. If that were the case I would be saying go get an attorney, but 30 years after the fact...you are your own person now, it is not clear how retribution and opening up your life to scrutiny benefits you. Your situation, on the surface, isn't like the Catholic priest cases. The reason those cases made headlines is that it became clear the church was taking steps to cover-up and conceal the behavior (and the church as money and enemies). The music teacher and this school district don't fit that criterion.
However, we don't have all the facts. No harm in speaking to an attorney. But frankly, an attorney is only going to be interested in the case if the school district can be wrapped into the case and that there is a strong case against the district. Otherwise, the lawsuit is cost prohibitive to bring.
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