“It never sat well with me all these years,” explained Nicole Hayes, a former USC student and survivor of gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall. As the only campus OBGYN at the university, Tyndall has been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by hundreds of patients who saw him over the course of 30 years, prompting a high profile class action lawsuit.
For Haynes—and many other survivors—coming forward can be terrifying and overwhelming. Aside from dealing with shame, hopelessness, self-blame and denial, survivors often repress memories or downplay the incident in an attempt to forget.
On top of this, sexual assault survivors must also consider how long they have to legal action against their perpetrators. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations, and it can pose problems for many who are not yet ready to come forward or don’t recognize their assault as such until years later, when the statute of limitations has already expired.
However, this time limit is improper for sexual assault cases, as there is typically little evidence and most assaults take place in private without witnesses. Because survivors often don’t come to terms with the abuse until years later, the law allows sexual predators to escape any kind of punishment.
But California survivors hope to help change this with a new bill introduced this February.
New Bill Targets Physicians Accused of Sexual Assault
Authored by Assembly member Eloise Gomez Reyes, California Assembly Bill 1510 would add an additional year for survivors of sexual assault to file their claims in court.
The bill creates a one-year window for sexual assault claims against a physician occurring at a student health center between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 2017. Survivors whose claims would have expired by January 1, 2020 will have until January 1, 2021 to file for damages instead.
This bill extending the statute of limitations by a year is vital because many survivors of Dr. Tyndall’s abuse experienced shame, humiliation and fear for years—before discovering there were hundreds of other survivors and they were not alone.
“AB 1510 will give survivors like me a chance to hold those who harmed us accountable.”
– Nicole Haynes, survivor of George Tyndall
With her own experience of being abused by a doctor, Olympic medalist Aly Raisman has become a vocal proponent of change for the laws surrounding sexual assault since speaking out against former USA gymnastics team doctor and serial child molester Larry Nassar.
“Such statutes disempower victims by stripping them of the ability to take action against their abusers and enablers, effectively perpetuating the cycle of sexual violence and abuse,” Raisman said at a press conference for the bill on April 24th.
Haynes also supports the bill. “AB 1510 will give survivors like me a chance to hold those who harmed us accountable,” she said. “It gives us a choice. We can choose our own path to justice.”
Still, the path to justice can be daunting. While the new bill would give Tyndall’s survivors in particular more time to come forward, it is up to them to reach out for help.
How a Civil Lawsuit Can Help Survivors
Help is available for survivors. Many are unaware of the benefits that a civil lawsuit can offer. Not only can it provide personal justice by exposing perpetrators, it can also secure valuable resources to help survivors heal and recover. This can include financial compensation to cover the cost of medical and therapy bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Seeking justice through the civil court system also gives survivors a chance to be heard and share their stories with others who are considering taking legal action.
If you are a sexual assault survivor, Jessica Pride can help you reclaim your voice. As a legal advocate and counselor, Jessica has won justice for hundreds of people for more than ten years. If you’re unsure about filing a claim or need assistance with understanding your options, please reach out to us at anytime by calling (619) 516-8166 or filling out this quick form.
Contacting us today is the first step to getting justice. All information is kept confidential and speaking with us is free. Call The Pride Law Firm today to learn how we can help you heal.