Game-changing California law could deter predators from counter-suing victims

Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that protects victims of sexual assault from facing frivolous and damaging defamation lawsuits. This law allows survivors of sex crimes, bullying, discrimination, and harassment to take legal action —without fear that the perpetrator will sue them as an intimidation or silencing tactic.

California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“We applaud Governor Newsom for de-weaponizing predators and for empowering survivors,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “It’s becoming increasingly common for predators to use defamation lawsuits as both a shield and a sword against their victims. When a powerful and wealthy predator uses a lawsuit to intimidate a traumatized victim, it’s not a fair fight. The new law is tipping the scale in favor of the survivors. This is a day for the survivors.”

In California, powerful Catholic priests such as Msgr. Joseph F. Alzugaray and Msgr Lawrence Baird used resources available to them by the Catholic Church to countersue their accusers.

Celebrities are also using this legal tactic – Bill Cosby sued four women in Pennsylvania who said the now-disgraced comedian sexually assaulted them. Former president Donald Trump recently filed a defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexual assault. Fortunately, the defamation lawsuit against Carroll was dismissed.

The purpose of many of these defamation lawsuits is clear: predators and those who protect and profit want to silence victims and keep them from demanding accountability.

“Together, we will continue to work to dismantle the many tactics predators use to evade accountability,” said Anderson. “The time in which powerful and connected predators could escape any consequences for their crimes is quickly coming to an end.”