It was heartbreaking to read about possible child sex crimes by a teacher at Cate.

Though Da’Jon Tyrik James has now been arrested, I’m glad the newspaper included contact information for the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office. Everyone who might have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes by James — or anyone — should call law enforcement immediately. Often a seemingly small or insignificant fact or suspicion turns out to be critical in convicting a predator.

But a high burden of proof, overworked and under-funded police and prosecutors, and other factors sometimes present overwhelming barriers that thwart a criminal case.

Here in California, however, victims of childhood sexual abuse, no matter what their age, have an unusual opportunity to seek justice in civil courts, even for horrors that took place decades ago.

Lawmakers have temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on child sex abuse. In practical terms, this means that if you were sexually violated here as a child, you can sue — and publicly expose — those who committed and concealed the crimes. This in turn can protect other kids, deter future cover ups and, for many survivors, bring healing and closure.

I hope James did not hurt any Cate students or other kids. If he did, I hope they reach out to the Sheriff’s Office, tell their stories, and are praised by their community for their courage. And no matter what happens in the criminal realm, I hope they consider civil litigation while they have the chance. California’s civil window for child sex abuse closes in less than 17 months, on December 31, 2022.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.