The initiative that goes into effect on January 1, 2020, will give people who suffered this crime up to 40 years to file a civil complaint

In Santa Ana, a 38-year-old man was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for committing lewd acts against two minors.

At the end of October, Rogelio Méndez was found guilty of three indecent acts against a child under 14 years of age; as well as rape and other crimes against another girl of the same age. The man was sentenced to prison for almost 14 years after having reached an agreement with the court.

The news of the sentence for this sexual predator was released a few days after Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state initiative AB 218. This measure allows the victims from abuse sexual in the childhood, until 40 years from age or five years after of the discovery of the abuse, can enter into demands civilians. The previous limit was up to 26 years, or three years after the discovery of abuse. The law will take effect on January 1, 2020.

In the case of Méndez, according to his testimony at the preliminary hearing, he sexually assaulted one of the girls when she was 12 and they were at a family party on July 4, 2015. The girl reported that she had stayed asleep and when she woke up, she realized that the abuser was bothering her. Méndez abused her again in April 2013 when she was 14 years old, and another time when she slept next to her mother and sister.

It takes years for victims of sexual abuse to discover the connection between aggression and the emotional damage they suffer. That's why they take time to report. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Méndez was also accused of disturbing another girl when the victim was 10 and 13 years old. The man was arrested in April last year after a social worker received an anonymous notice.

"The idea that someone who was assaulted in childhood is running out of time to report abuse is scandalous," said Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, author of AB 218.

“More and more, we are hearing from people who were victims years ago, but who were not ready to tell their story so far. We must not tell the victims that their time is up when we really need them to show their faces to protect the community from future abuse, ”Gonzalez said.

California is the third state of the nation East year in give he He passed for to protect at victims from abuse sexual. Earlier this year, New York and New Jersey increased the time limit to report at the age of 55.

New York also suspended the statute of limitations for one year, which led to hundreds of lawsuits against hospitals, schools, churches and against the late millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. It is believed that the same could happen in California, once the law takes effect.

The lawyer Ricardo Pérez talks about the benefits of the new law that extends the time to report sexual abuse to minors. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Demands at the door

Ricardo Pérez Villegas, a voucher in the lawsuit of 63 minors who were molested by two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, hopes that the new law will come into effect to bring some sexual abuse demands from clients abused in their childhood in School districts

"The new law is absolutely good especially for low-income people and immigrants who do not go for help or demand when they suffer sexual abuse because they do not want, can not or do not know," said the defender.

And he emphasizes that when the new law comes into force next year, people abused as children will be able to sue up to 40 years. "Under current law they can only do so until age 26, counting from age 18," he explained.

Why wait so long to report?

“What happens is that victims often do not want to think about it in the first years after abuse. Some find refuge in drugs and alcoholism. They don't realize they are mentally affected, ”he said.

“Over time, people discover the connection between abuse and their emotional or mental discomfort. That's why the new law is very good, ”said the lawyer.

In addition, he revealed that it contains an additional element, beginning January, the law will give a period of up to three years to file a lawsuit against the abusers, regardless of when the abuse has passed or how old they are now.

The Miramonte scandal began when authorities arrested Master Mark Berndt on charges of sexual abuse against minors. (Archive / Opinion).

It is important, he emphasizes, that victims take advantage of the new law.

"It is an opportunity for justice. They should also seek therapy and understand that the abuse suffered does not define them as persons. When one eats something that went wrong, the body takes it out; But when it's something emotional, the body doesn't know how to get rid of it. One has to go to the expert. Remember that by filing a report with the police, the Victim Compensation program provides you with free mental services. By receiving therapy, people can reach a life of peace, ”said the lawyer.

And he stressed that, even if the victims are undocumented, they should seek help, file a report and sue.

"A paperless person who has been a victim of sexual abuse as a minor may qualify for a U visa for cooperating with the police and obtaining immigration relief," he said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here