Game-Changing California Bill Could Deter Predators from Counter-Suing Victims

AB 933 will curb “revenge lawsuits” against victims of sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, and bullying

A bill sitting on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk allows survivors of sex crimes, bulling, discrimination, and harassment to come forward and use the legal system—without fear that the alleged attacker will sue to keep them quiet.

If passed, AB 933: the “Weaponized Defamation Claims” bill, will stop California-based lawsuits by accused predators such as Bill Cosby, who in 2014 sued four women in Pennsylvania who said that the now-disgraced comedian sexually assaulted them. The law would also forbid claims in California like Donald Trump’s recently dismissed New York defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll.

Celebrities aren’t the only ones who have tried to sue accusers to keep them quiet.

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

The purpose of many of the defamation lawsuits is plain: predators want to silence their victims and keep them from demanding accountability. When passed, survivors of sexual assault, bullying, harassment, and other crimes will no longer be subject to these frivolous lawsuits.

Crimes like child sexual abuse, sexual assault, cyberbullying, and harassment are about power. Silencing survivors with frivolous lawsuits is just one more way that predators assert power. By outlawing these kinds of lawsuits, survivors are granted full access to the civil and criminal justice systems to expose crimes and ensure that what happened to them does not happen to another innocent victim.