New Jersey’s New Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Gives Victims More Time to File a Lawsuit
December 1, 2019, marked the beginning of a new wave of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits as New Jersey’s new statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases became effective. The new law provides a two-year window during which victims of child sexual abuse who were previously time-barred from filing civil claims, may do so.
Abbot Koloff for NorthJersey.com detailed some of the allegations contained in the lawsuits filed immediately after the law went into effect.
Former New Jersey Cardinal Named in Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
One of the first cases contains allegations by a “new accuser” against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The accuser claims in his court documents that while growing up in Hackensack, he was the victim of sexual abuse and that McCarrick was his abuser.
McCarrick is no stranger to sexual abuse allegations. As reported on npr.org, the Vatican defrocked McCarrick in February 2019 after finding him guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”
In 2018, prior to his expulsion from the priesthood, McCarrick resigned from his position as Cardinal amidst evidence that he molested a young altar boy nearly 25 years ago. The New York Times allegedly uncovered evidence that two New Jersey dioceses paid settlements to men who accused McCarrick of sexually abusing them as children.
Early Lawsuits Allege Sexual Abuse by New Jersey Priests
Npr.com reported that at least two additional lawsuits filed in the initial batch contain allegations of sexual abuse by priests in New Jersey. One claim is against a priest from New Brunswick who was not publicly named on previous lists released by any diocese. Another case is against a priest from Paterson, who was the subject of a sexual abuse investigation years ago. That priest was reinstated. It is unclear whether the lawsuit against him is based on allegations that were the subject of that investigation or different ones.
New Jersey Expects to See More Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
New Jersey courts are bracing for even more lawsuits against organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church, and even public schools. New Jersey, like several other states, extended and suspended the statute of limitations specifically to allow victims of child sexual abuse the opportunity to pursue legal remedies against their alleged abusers. The institutions that protected sexual abusers and “covered-up” the allegations are also subject to liability.
As Koloff wrote, “Victims’ advocates and attorneys have been preparing for this day for months.” The enactment of the new law “makes it much easier to win sex abuse suits by giving survivors more time to bring accusations, doing away with restrictions that had barred such lawsuits.”
Filing Lawsuits Against Sexual Abusers Can Help Victims Heal
Even victims whose lawsuits were barred a long time ago, have two years to file lawsuits under the new statute of limitations. For some victims, the goal might be to collect money, compensation for years of suffering, shame, depression, and other injuries that occur because of childhood sexual abuse.
For others, the goal of filing a claim is closure or a chance to get answers. It’s an opportunity to depose witnesses, ask questions, and perhaps face one’s abuser in a court of law.
Some victims’ advocates feel strongly that filing a lawsuit and obtaining compensation is an important part of the healing process for many survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Contact Our Lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP, If You Were the Victim of Sexual Abuse as a Child
Our lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP, are reviewing claims for sexual abuse victims in New Jersey.
If you were sexually abused by a priest, religious leader, boy scout leader, teacher or counselor, call our office for a free case evaluation. You can reach our lawyers representing sexual abuse victims in New Jersey at 800-403-6191.