NJ Sexual Abuse Law
New Jersey Amended Child Sexual Abuse Law Effective December 1, 2019
On December 1, 2019, New Jersey began its 2-year look-back period giving victims of sexual abuse time to file lawsuits. NJ.com reporter Joe Atmonovage wrote that a law firm in NJ filed 40 lawsuits at 12:01 am, containing allegations of sexual abuse against the catholic church, the boy scouts, and other organizations. Some of the claims of abuse date back decades. The number of lawsuits is expected to rise as people begin to understand that even though their cases were barred in the past, they can now pursue legal remedies if they choose.
In addition to the look-back window, the NJ law gives victims of child sexual abuse until the age of 55 to file lawsuits or seven years after they discovered the abuse, whichever is later. Individuals who are sexually abused as adults have seven years from when they discovered the abuse. The New Jersey law also takes away immunity from various public entities previously shielded from liability for sexual abuse.
Patricia Teffenhart, who is the executive director of the NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the NJ law “will afford more survivors the opportunity to hold their perpetrators accountable.”
More States Amend Laws to Give More Time to Pursue Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse
The Child USA website www.childusa.org, reports that 24 states have recently amended some laws regarding sexual abuse. Many of them extend the statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse cases. Several provide a window for previously barred plaintiffs to proceed with lawsuits. In the wake of thousands of claims that children have been sexually abused by leaders of the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, in particular, legislators and child advocates are working closely to provide help to the victims.
How Will an Increase in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Affect the NJ Courts?
The NJ Law took effect on December 1, and expectations are that lawsuits will begin rolling in as awareness of the law’s changes become publicized. The impact on the state and court system is unknown. “A state Legislature fiscal report said it was impossible to project the number of new claims or costs N.J. may face. But costs would almost certainly increase.”
Since NY’s Child Victim’s Act went into effect in August, about 1100 lawsuits have been filed. There are 45 judges, according to NJ.com, who received special training and are handling these cases. One NJ State Bar Association Trustee told NJ.com that the number of court vacancies in NJ may slow the legal process more than victims would like. In California, the law becomes effective on December 31. A spokesperson for the Judicial Council of California is also concerned about system-wide court delays.
NJ Law is Helping Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Advocates of the new laws believe that the potential delays are less significant than the benefits they provide to victims of child sexual abuse. The NJ law gives victims of sexual abuse the opportunity to obtain much-needed closure, in addition to monetary compensation. It gives them the chance to finally seek justice and accountability from their abusers and the institutions that protected them.
Contact our Lawyers Representing Child Sexual Abuse Victims in NJ
At Alonso Krangle, LLP, our lawyers are reviewing sexual abuse cases for victims in NJ. Call our office if you were sexually abused as a child by a priest, boy scout leader, or other adult trusted with your safety. We can determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit against your abuser and the institution that should have helped you.
Call us at 800-403-6191 for a free evaluation of your NJ sexual abuse claim.