New Jersey Extends Statute of Limitations for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

 In Sexual Abuse, Sexual Abuse by Clergy
New Jersey has followed the lead of the New York Child Victim’s Act and various other states in its decision to extend the statute of limitations to file claims for sexual abuse.  On May 13, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law S-477, granting victims of childhood sexual abuse much needed additional time to pursue civil remedies against their alleged abusers.  The new law becomes effective on December 1, 2019.

Children Abused By Clergy and Trusted Adults Need Time

Since the discovery of widespread sexual abuse of children including sexual abuse by members of the Catholic church and other religious establishments, the need to consider changing sexual abuse laws has become evident.  The harm sexual abuse causes to children can take years to manifest.  When trusted adults tried to cover-up abuse, the trauma to children can result in denial, shame, and an inability to understand or believe they experienced sexual abuse.

Currently, individuals who are abused as children, in many states have only until their early 20s to pursue remedies in court.  Studies make it clear, however, that it can take children decades to be able to disclose, confront, and even acknowledge sexual abuse. It can take even longer when the accused is actively engaged in hiding the facts.

Under New Jersey’s New Law, Victims of Child Sexual Abuse May Have Until Age 55 to File Lawsuits Against Clergy

New Jersey’s soon-to-be-old law gives victims of sexual abuse two years to file a civil lawsuit.  It provides child victims until the age of 20.  According to Deena Yellin, writing for the North Jersey Record, under S-477, victims of child sex abuse will have the right to sue their abusers until the age of 55, “or within seven years of the realization that the abuse caused them harm.”

The new law also provides a two-year window during which individuals previously barred under the existing statute of limitations can file a lawsuit.

New Jersey Association of Justice Praises Governor Murphy

In a letter to the members of the New Jersey Association of Justice, its president Lynne M. Kizis, Esq. expressed her relief that this “long overdue” bill, which the NJAJ supported, was signed into law. She expressed gratitude that the new law “will allow some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens, the victims of child sexual abuse, to seek justice in our courts.”

Contact Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers Today

If you or a family member was a victim of sexual abuse by the clergy, please contact our lawyers today at (800) 403-6191.  We are compassionate, discrete and are here to advocate for you.  Call now.